Perhaps only something with the magnitude of 9/11 could've brought back together Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, who'd parted company some several years back. And, perhaps only something as infamous as 9/11 could've inspired such a brilliant album.
Far from trying to cash in on the national tragedy (like Toby Keith), Springsteen saw the attack hit almost on his homeland, being a New Jersey native himself. And, it guided him to writing a brilliant, haunting album.
No one sings like Bruce Springsteen. I don't think any singer in the history has had such command with his voice. Bruce doesn't throw it all around, but when he's singing, you're listening. No one can channel all that is America into a song like Springsteen.
Like the country, The Rising shifts alternately from wounded pride to vengeance seeking to remorse and most everything in between.
1) Lonesome Day is manages to rock with an almost symphonic quality to it. It builds to a wonderful climax. 4/4
2) Into the Fire is an amazingly moving song. It starts out quietly, with a light, folksy arrangement and then builds from there, building into a rousing climax. Bruce's voice is strong and yet tender on this track. 4/4
3) Waitin' On A Sunny Day is one of the most up tempo tracks on the album. This one has a nice drive to it, and shows just how tight the E Street band is. It gives a little spotlight to the sax, which is always a treat. 4/4
4) Nothing Man slows down the tempo and is one of the most 9/11 inspired tracks on the album. Less is more on this track, as it has a light, rim clicking drum part and subtle strings. It gets a little too repetitive to be a truly excellent track, but is very good nonetheless. 3.5/4
5) Countin' On a Miracle kicks butt and then some. Bruce is at his most authorative here and has some of his best lyrics in this song. Very few songs are as well constructed as this one here. 4/4
6) Empty Sky strikes a slightly different vibe with some muffled snare work and a little piano before breaking into another brilliant song. Also a song so clearly directly inspired by 9/11, it finds Bruce mulling over the tragedy and wanting revenge ("Eye for an eye"). Forget Toby Keith, this is the authorative post 9/11 song. 4/4
7) World's Apart has a unique, ethnic feel to it-it reminds me of something South African. Some of the heaviest use of the harmonica here, and Bruce brilliantly mixes the ethnic feel of it with his own unique style. 4/4
8) Let's Be Friends has some of the nicest harmonies and the most catchy lyrics of the album. It's a lighter track. A nice, somewhat bubbly track with a nice wind section thrown in. 4/4
9) Further On has some MAJOR atmosphere on it, stronger than perhaps anything on the album. With its electric guitars and snapping snare drum, you get the feel of the song even without the lyrics, which are up to typical Bruce level. No one else could do this track like Bruce Springsteen-actually, I wish Johnny Cash would've covered it; hearing the Man in Black bellow "I'll meet you further on up the road" would've been quite a treat. 4/4
10) The Fuse, with twirly guitars, has a different feel to it. It has a British feel to it-like something Blur would've done if they were up to Bruce's level. The bridge is a nice change of pace. 4/4
11) Mary's Place starts out more folksy, again with a lighter arrangement, before breaking into a rocking chorus. It proves that very few people around are at Springsteen's level of songwriting. I think this is his most like some of his earlier work, and is quite a song. The E Street band is really gelling here. 4/4
12) You're Missing starts softly, with a simple drum beat and some refined, arpeggiating strings accentuating Springsteen's vocal delivery. Like Further On, this is a very atmospheric track yet in a different way. Seldom does music paint such a vibrantly detailed picture as this. 4/4
13) The Rising was the first track off the album to be released as a single, and perhaps wisely so-it's probably the most 'radio ready' track. After the somber reflectiveness of Nothing Man, this is the "now we're recovering" track. It's up tempo, driving and quite catchy. 4/4
14) Paradise has an interesting beginning, mixing some unusual ambiance with bits of acoustic guitar. If slightly unsteady at first, it becomes more secured as the track goes on, with Bruce's most vulnerable vocals and lyrics. This has a unique and special aura to it, but meanders a little bit which takes it down slightly from being great to good. 3.4/4
15) My City of Ruins is the track that Bruce Springsteen unveiled not too long after 9/11, in a raw, acoustic version as part of a television tribute. It's a very nice touch for the end of the album, with Bruce's authorative "Rise Up" driving it home. Hey, he isn't called the Boss for nothing. This is a haunting, brilliant send off to a haunting, brilliant album. 4/4
The Rising is a very mature album-it's not really made to have pop radio hits. It's essential listenership-no album collection is complete without this one.