Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball

Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball
Since he reformed the E-Street band and delivered his excellent 9/11 screed, The Rising, America has turned to Springsteen for answers and guidance in times of turmoil. For Wrecking Ball, fans clamoured for a response to the Great Recession, the way Darkness on the Edge of Town and Nebraska soundtracked the economic upheavals of the late '70s. Many jeered when he failed to address any issues at his 2008 Superbowl appearance, instead attempting to channel the good-time rock'n'roll of early '70s Jersey shore swing. The Boss sounds more game this time out, delivering on numbers like "We Take Care of Our Own" and "Death to My Hometown." That these tracks don't sound contrived coming from the mouth of a very rich and aging rock star based out of the bubble of L.A. says a great deal about Springsteen's continued prowess as a songwriter. Wrecking Ball's opening trio of tunes are a rousing trilogy fuelled by foot-stomping rhythms and sing-along choruses. But things grind to a halt on "Jack of All Trades"; its sweet lyrics can't save the turgid production, which even manages to sink Tom Morello's usually dependable guitar work. In fact, its Ron Aniello's production and Springsteen's reliance on overstuffed backing tracks from a litany of musicians, including original Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlin and members of the E Street Band, that sink most of these offerings. Even the late Clarence Clemons' once mighty sax solos get buried on the title track. Wrecking Ball is filled with great songs that will no doubt sound great live (isn't that the way with everything Springsteen does?). But while the soul is clearly willing, this time out the flesh isn't cooperating. (Columbia)