Bruce Springsteen is Working on a Dream

In music, recommendations, reviews on February 14, 2009 at 3:13 pm

If you have ever talked about music with me sometime during the past year or so you probably discovered that I have a mild obsession with Bruce Springsteen.  There are times that I will even make outrageous statements such as, “Bruce Springsteen is the greatest songwriter in the history of American music.”  Needless to say, I love the Boss (not romantically of course).

While his new album, Working on a Dream, has gotten extremely mixed reviews across the board (ranging from 5 stars from Rolling Stone to 1.5 stars from Slant), I think that it is most definitely a worthy addition to the Springsteen canon.  It certainly lacks the angst of earlier albums, but the stories are still there.

“Outlaw Pete” and “Queen of the Supermarket” are without a doubt the two most polarizing songs on the album.  In “Outlaw Pete,” the main character is literally a born criminal, and in “Queen of the Supermarket,” we meet a man who is so beaten down (thematically, classic Springsteen), that his only consolation is seeing the “beauty behind the counter.”  While they might be odd at first listen, within the context of the world that Springteen has sang about since Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., these songs add depth and color to an already great collection of songs.

Production-wise, Working on a Dream is the most interesting Springsteen album in years.  The Brian Wilson influence first found on Magic is continued and, dare I say, perfected.  The melodic bass lines found in “Working on a Dream” and “This Life” are 60s influenced pop at its best.  On the bluesy “Good Eye,” Bruce finally found a place for the vocal distortion that he has been experimenting with on the live version of “Reason to Believe.”  “This Life” and “Kingdom of Days” are gorgeous, and “The Last Carnival” and “The Wrestler” are a somber, but perfect way to end the album; the former a eulogy for recently deceased E-Street band member Danny Federici and the latter a bonus track from the film of the same name.

Overall, Working on a Dream is a great album.  While it will never be remembered as a classic album in the realm of  Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, or Born in the U.S.A., it is most certainly classic Springsteen.   Many will disagree with me, but I will even say that it will be considered among the best albums of 2009.  I highly recommend it.


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