tue 23/04/2024

Album: Bruce Springsteen - Letter to You | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Bruce Springsteen - Letter to You

Album: Bruce Springsteen - Letter to You

Nostalgia for the future

The Boss

As he cruises into the autumn of his life, 71 year-old Bruce Springsteen, The Boss, as he's generally known, revisits territory that will sound very familiar to his fans.

Perhaps that's what's needed, at this time when those core American values he's sung about with enduring passion seem threatened as never before.

There are new songs – like the title track “Letter to You”- that sound quintessential, as if nothing had changed: the trademark twangy guitars, rolling Hammond B Organ and churchy rock’n’roll piano, the romance of Bruce’s sweet desperado voice, wrapped up in a wall of sound that owes a great deal to the pop symphonies created by Phil Spector. And then there are resurrected ones – such as “If I Was The Priest” that were written before Springsteen hit the jackpot with his third album Born to Run (1973), and was still being hailed as the new Dylan, with lyrics that were owed a great deal to the man he's hailed as one of his masters.

A film that has come out simultaneously, also titled Letter to You, chronicles some of the sessions that produced the album: as Springsteen explains that he is paying homage to his birth as a priest in the church of rock’n’roll – his years with teen band The Castiles. Such a nostalgic return to something of the pre-lapsarian past that preceded world stardom and the mixed blessing of commercial mega-success suits the elegiac tone that has characterised so much of his work. America produces voices that are rooted in the country’s ever-renewing sense of promise, the glimmering earthly paradise, spiritual more than material, upon which one facet of the American Dream is founded. The road, the rail tracks, cars, motorbikes, departures, the excitement of escape, the sadness of departure – all of these are both literally and poetically present in the mood and lyrics of Springsteen’s always stirring oeuvre.

The E Street Band are superlative musicians, and most of the original gang are still more than happy to play with The Boss. The playing is flawless and not in the slightest bit tired, as if they were all still ready to fly down once more that thunder road. There's a sense in which this is more of the same – not because Springsteen and his friends can’t be bothered, but because they have always celebrated something of the heart and soul that's made America great. No need to re-invent that idea, for the promised land they conjure in these very romantic pure pop and rock’n’roll songs remains something to be built, in the face of America’s darker deeds and desires.


But let’s face it, “Ghosts” is a TOTAL rip off of “The Walls Came Down” by The Call. Is possible nobody in E-Street land noticed?

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