Monday, February 2, 2009

Review: Working On a Dream

Well surprise, surprise, come on open your eyes ...

Well it's been an exciting couple of weeks for Bruce Springsteen fans; a new CD, a Superbowl halftime show; the start of a new tour and all the buzz on the internet. I have read numerous reviews on the new CD, Working On a Dream. I have read raves and I have read pans. So I thought it was time to give my review on the CD.

First let me vent a little. I am anxious for new music as the next, but when songs are released a few at a time; Working On a Dream then My Lucky Day then Life Itself; for me it takes a little of the suprise and joy of listening to a new CD. It's like when you see previews to a new movie and the previews are great; then you go see the movie and the best parts were in the previews.

With that said reviewing Springsteen releases are tricky. Bruce set the bar so high with his 70's and early 80's albums that it's almost unfair to compare new releases to those great works. However, I thought The Rising stood on it's on as a complete album or CD, but it's hard to think of a song from The Rising that would compare favorably to say She's The One or Prove It All Night. As for Magic, I enjoyed listening to it's sort of retro-Bruce sound, but the overall vibe was a downer for me.

Now we have Working On a Dream, the 3rd release in 7 years with the reunited E Street Band. As with Magic you can hear some of the old Bruce in it, but you can also hear The Beach Boys, The Byrds, a little Roy Orbison and maybe some of Spector's "wall of sound". Rolling Stone magazine called it Bruce's white album because of it's varied sound. I am pleasantly suprised by the CD. I love the production and the variety of songs. I think that ever more so than Tunnel of Love this is Bruce's love album. Most of the song expresses the joy of love and life. I love the album and rate it up along side of The Rising (my favorite album of this decade).

  • Outlaw Pete - A return to the epic song, ala The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle or Jungleland; the story is right out of a light weight spaghetti western; muscially it is sort of cross between Ennio Morricone and maybe Brian Wilson's Smile; the harmonica is straight out of Once Upon a Time in the West. It's a terrific song.

  • My Lucky Day - This song could have been recorded during The River sessions, akin to Two Hearts; great harmony with Little Steven.

  • Working On a Dream - A great and uplifting single. The song is better as you listen through the CD and it is growing on me more and more; I love the background singing.

  • Queen of the Supermarket - This could be a prequel to maybe I Wanna Marry You; the highlight of the guys day is going to the supermaket just to see the checkout girl that he has fallen for, but has yet to ask out. A very good song.

  • What Love Can Do - A rocking song with a modern sounding drum beat; great guitar/harmonica solo; lyrically along the lines of Tougher Than the Rest or My Love Will Not Let You Down.

  • This Life - Sounds if it could have been recorded for Pet Sounds; maybe a brighter sequel to Girls in Their Summer Clothes; Another winner.

  • Good Eye - A bluesy song along the lines of I Ain't Got You or Reason to Believe (Devils and Dust tour version);

  • Tomorrow Never Knows - A beautiful love song makes you feel like you are traveling along in a train watching the story from the window.

  • Life Itself - Fantastic song; great sound with blend of instruments especially the organ and guitars; A great Byrds influence (not the jingle jangle Byrds, but the mid-period Byrds of 8 Miles High).

  • Kingdom of Days - Another ode to love; fine tune.

  • Suprise, Suprise - Yet another solid ode to love; an uplifting birthday song.

  • The Last Carnival - A bitter sweet update of 1973's Wild Billy's Circus Story. The later featured the late E Street member, Danny Federici on accordian. On this tribute to Danny (which includes Danny's son Jason Federici on accordian) Bruce uses the circus life as an analogy on the battles that he fought along side with his pal and band mate.

Another small gripe of mine is the bonus song. Not that I don't like the additional song, but exactly how is it a bonus song. To me a bonus song make sense if you re-release an older CD and add new material that wasn't on the original release.

Overall I love the Working On a Dream. I think the production and overall sound is terrific. The songs are uplifting and worthy of repeated listening.