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We'll be alright

  • Mar 18, 2012
That is the key line from "Jack of All Trades" the song that I immediately went back to for a second listen after going straight the album in track order.

Bruce also writes in this song "We'll start caring for each other, like Jesus said we might" and it isn't the only reference to Jesus on this album.  It would be a stretch to call this Bruce's gospel album, but not much of a stretch.  I have always felt that one of the strengths of Springsteen's music and lyrics is that he has a deep understanding of sin and redemption, and he has never shied away from Biblical imagery. 

But he also takes redemption in his own hands, welded to his steel backbone in the Jersey badlands.: 

If I had me a gun .I'd find the bastards and shoot 'em on sight. 
I'm a jack of all trades, we'll be alright.

Justice--and mercy--are what we make of it.  This may be as powerful a song as Bruce has ever written.

Some other song choices seem odd, like sound experiments that just aren't working out.  'Swallowed Up" just doesn't work for me.  The roots-music trend, with a predilection to the Irish reel that started a few years ago with the Dublin sessions and the live album there, continues here, perhaps to excess.  While I miss the presence of a simple 2 minute and 50 second rock ripper here--"Darlington County" style--it is interesting that Bruce has chosen to reprise two songs ("American Land" and "Land of Hope and Dreams") recorded and released live previously; while not note for note identical, they aren't substantially differentiated from the live versions.

From track 9 on, with the gospel choir in the background of "Rocky Ground", the album becomes distinctly Biblical in lyrics and music, gospel Springsteen-style.  Rocky Ground is one of those experiments that does work very well, a powerful and beautiful anthem of hope and dreams.  

This is a fine album that will repay multiple replays.  Bruce continues to hold his ground and expand his catalog with music that will last, like most of his output for the last three decades.

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March 19, 2012
I agree.
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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