“I was raised out of steel here in the swamps of Jersey,” sings Bruce Springsteen in the open line of the title track of ‘Wrecking Ball’. The 17th Springsteen album (and first since the death of E Street Band co-founder Clarence Clemons) is on the way.
‘Wrecking Ball’ is a timely reminder of the times we are living in with Bruce reassuring us all in the title track that “hard times come and hard times go”.
This is an album custom-made for middle America, the people hit and hurt by Wall Street greed and those who suffered from the dirty deeds of others. His first message about a positive America is in the title of track one ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’.
This is a different sounding E Street Band album. ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’ is the closest thing to the sound of the past. After track one you will hear a mix of Celtic, country, roots and blues flavours. The lack of sax following the death of Clarence Clemons removes a signature sound we have been used to on E Street Band records since day one.
‘Easy Money’ and ‘Shackled and Drawn’ change gear from the rock sound of the opening track and reset the album for a roots feel. ‘Jack Of All Trades’ slows right back to allow us to focus on the lyrics and more Bruce positives “I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be alright”.
‘Death To My Hometown’ is something different for the E Street Band with a Celtic, marching beat. ‘This Depression’ is a ballad, love-song for troubled times. Then Bruce gets bluesy with ‘You’ve Got It’.
What really stands out with ‘Wrecking Ball’ is the number of references to Jesus, God, shepherds, angels and flocks. The album is blatantly biblical.
On ‘Rocky Ground’ ‘Forty days and nights of rain have washed this land, Jesus said the money changers in this temple will not stand, Find your flock, get them to higher ground’. The song also features a rap from gospel singer Michelle Moore.
‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ was recorded in early 2011 before the death of Clarence Clemons. Springsteen wrote the song in the late 90s and first debuted it live on March 18, 1999 at a gig in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This track and the tile track ‘Wrecking Ball’ are the only two tracks on the album featuring Clarence. They are his final E Street Band recorded moments.
‘We Are Alive’, the song that ends the album, opens with the crackle of vinyl on a turntable. It has a country beat and prominent banjo. Again, something different for the E Street Band.
Bruce has not replaced Clarence’s sax sound on the songs recorded after his death. Stan Harrison, who played on ‘The Promise’ plays tenor sax on only ‘Jack Of All Trades’ and ‘You’ve Got It’. Other than that, the presence of Clarence Clemons is felt more from his lack of presence.
The album features Matt Chamberlain (Soundgarden) playing drums on ‘You’ve Got It’ and Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave) on guitar in ‘Jack of All Trades’ and ‘This Depression’.
About the album, Bruce’s manager John Landau said, “Bruce has dug as deep as he can to come up with his vision of modern life. The lyrics tell a story you can’t hear anywhere else and the music is his most innovative of recent years. The writing is some of the best of his career and both veteran fans and those who are new to Bruce will find much to love on ‘Wrecking Ball’”.
Sony will release ‘Wrecking Ball’ in Australia on March 9.
We Take Care Of Our Own
Shackled and Drawn
Jack of All Trades
Death to My Hometown
You’ve Got It
Land Of Hope and Dreams
We Are Alive