There is something just uniquely captivating and almost mesmerising about going to a Springsteen show. Some people may even refer to attending one of his shows as life changing. Whether you were fortunate enough to see one of his sold out one man shows on Broadway that also is available on Netflix or you have been to one of his 4 hour long stadium shows there is just something unique that a guy who turns 70 years old this year brings to his live shows. He is the ultimate entertainer – comfortably the best I have seen by such a great distance and has such a special grasp on his lyrics and experiences that his ability as a storyteller is unrivalled.
He released his first album “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” in 1973 which was 12 years before I was even born and his latest album “Western Stars” which was released June 14th 2019 through Columbia Records is his nineteenth studio release in his 46 year career but his first new release in 5 years. The record was produced by Ron Aniello who also produced the 2 previous Springsteen albums “Wrecking Ball” and “High Hopes” in addition to a variety of work that includes Shania Twain’s most recent album “Now” and the Matt Nathanson’s classic “Beneath These Fireworks” record.
As such a decorated songwriter and storyteller with such an intricate attention to detail and reality in his music the intrigue towards a more “country” sound was always a journey that would be anticipated. Country as a genre is always at heart focused on real life and real stories that people deal with on a daily basis so given that these are the values core to Bruce as one of the greatest rock and roll artists of all time the pairing with his stories with a sound more tailored to Nashville was almost inevitable.
If you are a diehard Springsteen fan that does not have an openness towards the more rootsy nature of country, this may not be your all-time favourite Bruce album but it is definitely a record you will regard highly and appreciate his stories and his voice almost from a different perspective. It is not an album of monster hits like “Born in the U.S.A.” or an album that will instantly be one of your all-time favourites after the first listen like “Darkness on the Edge of Town” but it is deep and meaningful in the song writing but above all it is still so quintessentially Bruce and one of his best pieces of work for quite some time. What makes it like this is that is bares the trademarks of how Springsteen has the ability to pull at every raw emotion in the space of a single track that when you dive down into the lyrics of each of the 13 songs it well and truly belongs at the top of pieces produced in recent years with a Nashville or sun-kissed Californian pop flavour.
The album’s penultimate track “Hello Sunshine” was the first sight to the record when released as a single back at the end of April is the perfect introduction of what this album represents and reflects that classic sun-kissed country sound you may associate with the late Glen Campbell and is just so fitting lyrically and in sound to reflect both Springsteen and the country style and the title track “Western Stars” is just an out and out masterpiece that you could imagine just being mesmerised at hearing when sat at one of Nashville’s famous songwriters round. “Stones” for me is another personal favourite track off this album that is genuinely something that you can’t stop listening to from when you first start playing “Hitch Hikin” until the close of “Moonlight Motel”
As a huge Springsteen fan that has a real appreciation of lyrics and particularly the country or Americana style this for me is an absolute masterpiece which is definitely one of the most powerful records from start to finish that I have heard in a long time and I recommend you undertake the journey that listening to this record takes you on as soon as possible.