4 and a half stars.
Seventeen studio albums in and Bruce Springsteen is still delivering first class albums – does age have no effect on this man? Wrecking Ball is perhaps Springsteen’s angriest album yet, grappling with themes of injustice and economic decline so those expecting tales of long summers night are in for a shock. Not only is there a change in tone lyrically (take the song ‘Jack of all Trades’ for example: “If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ’em on sight”) but musically we’re also in very different territory from Working On A Dream.
The album showcases an eclectic mix of songs, from Irish flavoured folk tunes like ‘Shackled and Drawn’ to the trademark Springsteen anthems in ‘We Take Care of our Own’. There is of course a sad, but fitting, reminder of the passing of Clarence ‘The Big Man’ Clemonts in the song ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’, featuring his last contribution on record and what a contribution as he plays the trademark sax solo, the type of which has come to define the E Street band’s sound.
It’s amazing that Bruce still sounds, and performs, as if it were 1975, but even more remarkable for me is the fact he can produce an album of such relevance and vitality at 62. Believe me, this is no half-hearted, run of the mill piece of work. For most fans, a classic artist’s new material is not necessarily something you want to see on a set list, but come May I will be looking forward to hearing these tunes delivered by the sheer magnificence of the legendary E Street band.