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Springsteen's most complex, textured work in years.
on October 26, 2007
This is an album to stir the loins of Bruce Springsteen fans, resurrecting the desperate, fist-waving bravura of much-loved classics "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA" in a life-affirming surge of rock and roll, soul, blues and gospel, all merged together in a Spector-esque wall of sound.
The drums go boom-cha-boom on "You'll Be Comin' Down", Clarence Clemons's sax punches a hole through "Living in the Future", and a church bell can even be heard ringing out on "Your Own Worst Enemy".
But, as on Springsteen's earlier masterpieces, the underlying sentiment is much darker and more subtle than the swaggering music implies.
As everyone knows, your own worst enemy is yourself, and Springsteen turns a mordant eye on the changes in his own country since 9/11.
This is his most intensely produced album in years, this also sounds like the most fun Springsteen has had in a studio since the Seventies.
"I just want to feel some rhythm," he insists on "Radio Nowhere", a typically defiant finger flip to corporate communications, still strangely believable coming from an artist of huge wealth himself.
It's Springsteen's most complex, textured work in years, as rich as any in his catalogue, with songs that both challenge, inform and entertain. He once observed, in his lyrics anthology "Songs", that a song's emotional centre is dependent on the fellowship the writer feels with his subject, that when a lyric falls perfectly into place, "your voice disappears into the voices of those you've chosen to write about".
On "Magic" this happens time and time again, as he proves himself a master of the empathy required to bring his characters to life in all their contradictory, multiple selves.
With the E Street Band back at his shoulder, Bruce reverts to the romantic idealism of their youth on "Girls In Their Summer Clothes", and to simple symbolism on the title track.