Friday, 1 June 2018

Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball (2012)


Released March 2012

Recorded at Springsteen's house in New Jersey

Another somewhat perplexing album, after some patchy output in the first decade of the new millennium, Bruce Springsteen was back, this time railing at big finance, bankers and corporate business. Many would say this was somewhat hypocritical from a multi-millionaire, but Springsteen’s heart has always been in the right place. His targets were/are definitely deserving of it.This is not an E Street Band album, some of the members, like Garry Tallent and Nils Lofgren do not appear at all. Others appear randomly on just a few tracks. Springsteen employs a large brass section, and the album is a sort of bridging point between the folky brass oompah of “The Seeger Sessions” and the guitar-driven rock of the last three albums. There are other styles in there too, lots of Irish rebel folk instrumental breaks, some gospel inflections and even some rap (which appalled some fans!).


1. We Take Care Of Our Own
2. Easy Money
3. Shackled And Drawn
4. Jack Of All Trades
5. Death To My Hometown
6. Wrecking Ball
7. This Depression
8. You've Got It
9. Rocky Ground
10. Land of Hope And Dreams
11. We Are Alive
12. Swallowed Up (In The Belly Of The Whale)
13. American Land

For me, this is an album which starts really well, but tails off quite markedly. “We Take Care Of Our Own” is a pounding diatribe against a country who clearly does not always take care of its own, as in the case of Hurricane Katrina. “Easy Money” is a folk rock gripe at financiers, as is the catchy, singalong “Shackled And Drawn” with its big band backing. “Jack Of All Trades” is an evocative sparsely backed slow number, while “Death To My Hometown” is another rousing tub thumper uniting us all against those nasty bankers. 

While the title track is another fist pumper, just before that the tedious “This Depression” has seen the standard decline and this is continued by the thoroughly unremarkable “You’ve Got It”. “Rocky Ground” features the rap and is actually quite appealing, as is one of the album’s best songs, the moving “We Are Alive” which sees ghosts of past social conflicts rising up to tell their stories against a rousing “Ring Of Fire” backing. Either side of that, though, is the studio version of the live barnstormer “Land Of Hope And Dreams” which is extremely disappointing and nowhere near as inspirational as the version that appeared on “Live At New York City”. “Swallowed Up (In The Belly Of The Whale)” is terribly turgid, but things are finished on a high note with the exhilarating Irish-influenced “American Land”.

There is some good material on here, but there are also some treading water moments which render this an album that feels a little incomplete.


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