Friday, April 21, 2006

Bruce Springsteen: They Call Me the Seeger

There is a review of Bruce Springsteen's new album, The Seeger Sessions, at Slate. Here's some of it:

"The new Bruce Springsteen album is his best in a more than a decade. It's also the first for which he hasn't composed a single song. These two phenomena, sorry to say, are not unrelated....the truth is, since Tunnel of Love (1991), Springsteen's writing has gone flat. His two most recent albums have been particularly painful. The Rising (2002), Springsteen's vaunted 'response to Sept. 11,' made an almighty rock 'n' roll noise, but the lyrics found him straining for significance amid an explosion of abstract nouns: 'faith,' 'hope,' 'blood,' 'fire,' etc. Then came last year's Devils & Dust, a folk-flecked album whose songs suggested that the Boss had taken the praise of the tweedy set too much to heart."
"There's reason to believe that Springsteen is suffering from a nasty case of writer's block. When The Rising came out four years ago, it was his first new album since 1995, and Devils & Dust was largely composed of material he'd written years before. In other words, in the last decade-plus, he's recorded only a couple dozen new songs, a paltry number for even a notoriously slow worker like Springsteen. The current release, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, a collection of folk standards associated with Pete Seeger, seems like the classic move of a blocked singer-songwriter....But when I put The Seeger Sessions in the CD player, I heard a welcome sound: a racket. "
I don't know enough about Springsteen to say confidently whether it is his Advancement that disappoints the writer (who says that Nebraska might be the Boss' finest songwriting moment), but I suspect that Springsteen could probably explain why Devils & Dust was the greatest thing he ever did and that even if he were to record a disco album it would be twice as good as Nebraska.

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