Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream

Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream
Tapping into the momentum that spawned 2007's Magic and revisiting songs that didn't make that record, Bruce Springsteen leads the E Street Band through soulful material that takes time and focus to process and appreciate. The songs are strong and there's fire in Springsteen's voice and mind, crafting melodies and lyrics as proficiently as ever. But even as the musical arrangements distinguish themselves from one another, there's a lack of sonic dynamics, as songs cohere a little too closely. Without succumbing to the griping of some regarding Brendan O'Brien's production over his three recent records (the Boss still has the final say, after all), there is something to be said for the power of starkness in Springsteen's work. As layered and wall-of-sound as Born to Run may have been, each instrument resonated clearly in the mud, bursting forth with power and hunger. Lyrically and vocally, Working on a Dream is controlled and mature but of the same '75 stock; it's a searching, purposeful record about spiritual connection. Yet the lack of separation for each player, the eschewing of sparseness in favour of a concentrated musical force, is something of a misstep. As loud as he roars and wails, Springsteen is a musician who understands the dramatic impact of space and silence in his work but with Working on a Dream, the E Street train wants to rumble without making any stops. (Columbia)