Make no mistake: Bruce Springsteen is a god. The E Street Band is full of rock deities, and he’s a musician with a storied career that involves very few missteps. Even his worst effort is far superior to what many of today’s singers are producing, but his latest effort, Working On A Dream, is not his greatest album. It’s certainly worth the purchase and multiple listens, but this is not the Springsteen of years past.
The E Street Band is at its best when The Boss is either angry (see Born to Run, Born in the U.S.A., and The Rising) or wistful (“Thunder Road”, “I’m On Fire”). Whether singing about mistreatment of veterans or reflecting on September 11, his most compelling songs come from a far darker place than the ones of Dream. This is a Bruce we haven’t seen much of in recent times. This Bruce is… happy.
The optimism and ebullience of Dream reflect Springsteen’s personal politics, and this album is the perfect soundtrack for the age of Obama. Songs like “Surprise, Surprise” and “My Lucky Day” are hopeful and slightly infectious, but they lack the depth of Springsteen of yore. “The Wrestler” is by far the best song on the album, and even though the Academy chose not to reward him with an Oscar nomination, it’s outstanding.
Buy Working On A Dream. Listen to it multiple times. But be sure to dig deep into his back catalog for the best of Bruce Springsteen. There is definitely a reason why he has maintained his relevance over nearly three decades and remains the one, the only, The Boss.
Rating: 3/4 stars