Review Summary: The E Street Band reinvents its sound with an interesting record, not as good as Springsteen's standards though.
Ever since Born To Run
, Springsteen has started to write a lot. And when I mean a lot, I mean dozens of songs were prepared for every upcoming album.
Just for Darkness On The Edge Of Town
he and his band wrote and arranged more than 70 songs: some of them ended up on the actual album, other songs were bound to be published in the future.
It’s the case of The Promise
, one of his best songs of the late 70s, released only after many years, but it’s also the case of many songs which have been played in live shows and never recorded for a studio album. Springsteen himself has stated that while working on an album, he simultaneously works on other projects for the nearby future.
is certainly not an album just made of new tracks, but we can still consider it a new album.
One of the main reasons is that most songs are accompanied by Tom Morello, the former guitarist of Rage Against The Machine, whose presence brought a brand new peculiar sound to the E Street Band, which has always been more folk-oriented (especially in the latest Wrecking Ball
Morello’s aggressive and energetic guitar seems in fact to work well in the songs which he joins in and as a result, one of the record major pros is being something different from the typical Springsteenian album of the 2000s, and for this reason it could be either more loved by people who usually can’t stand his music but also disliked by the die-hard fans.
Considering myself a die-hard fan of his, I can honestly say that – even if this is certainly not his best record since the reunion of the band in 1999 – it’s a pretty good album and the fact of experimenting something else has to be appreciated.
The songs included in this album are overall decent, some of them easy to forget but some are really good, there is less politics and more music, with some nice guitar solos here and there.
The title-track is very catchy and represents the perfect example of how well Morello and the E Street Band get on: a good matching of distorted guitar and wind istruments.
American Skin (41 Shots)
is more touching, telling the story of Amadou Diallo, a black guy killed in the Bronx with 41 gun shots by the police in 1999 for extracting something that could seem either a gun or a knife, but was just a wallet.
The songs denounces the abuse of power of the NYPD in those years and was already performed live and released in the DVD Live In New York City
one year later. This new version is not that different from the previous one, but still very good.
One song that is exeptionally executed and much different from the original version is The Ghost Of Tom Joad
, arguably the best song on the whole album. It has everything a great rock song needs: great instrumental parts (guitar solos included), good lyrics and a really powerful atmosphere. Simply brilliant.
There are other remarkable songs, enjoyable and catchy, such as Just Like Fire Would
and Frankie Fell In Love
, but among these This Is Your Sword
is the most particular, with its folky rythms, bagpipes and banjo, faithfully played according to the celtic sounds which the Boss has become fond of lately, especially with the release of We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Session
and also appearing in a couple of songs by the celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys.
This album has just one big problem: since it consists of covers, remakes and unreleased works, it doesn’t have a solid structure. Still, many songs are great and worth listening to. It’s recommended for the Boss’ fans who never miss one of his albums when it comes out, but everybody will agree that Springsteen should have worked more on this, maybe including only tracks played with Morello in order to have a healthier perception of the record without renouncing to the innovative sound they were able to create together.
American Skin (41 Shots)
Frankie Fell In Love
The Ghost Of Tom Joad