Play Bruce Springsteen’s new album Letter To You and your home will be full of warmth, and decency, and people for an hour
Bruce Springsteen Letter To You Out Friday
Bruce Springsteen has spent the past few years branching out, with an autobiography, a Broadway show, an orchestrated folk album and a lockdown radio series.
The book was a bestseller, the show made $100 million, the album went to No.1, but the Springsteen on display was largely his inner loner. He’s also a party animal, who should be proving it all night, in football grounds, to crowds of 50,000.
Instead, we have the next best thing. Before lockdown, in his New Jersey barn, The Boss brought The E Street Band back together.
Before lockdown, in his New Jersey barn, The Boss brought The E Street Band back together (Bruce Springsteen with wife and E Street stalwart Patti Scialfa, above)
They are one of the all-time best backing bands, up there with The Shadows, The Miracles and The JBs. And one of the biggest, liable to break the rule of six just by gathering for a rehearsal.
Their full, warm sound is built to welcome everybody. Seven hearts are better than one.
Letter To You is Springsteen’s 20th studio album. By ‘you’, he means us: the nine new songs are a love letter to his audience. They celebrate the music itself and the band members who have died, including Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s saxophonist and soulmate.
The surviving E Streeters work so well together that after giving themselves five days to record this album, they finished it in four. Their musicianship is a thrill throughout – the swell of Roy Bittan’s organ, the snap of Max Weinberg’s backbeat, the swagger of three guitars as Springsteen swaps riffs with Nils Lofgren and Steve Van Zandt.
The writing isn’t quite so hot, but every song is likeable and the single Ghosts feels like a favourite of the future. The new tracks are joined by three very old ones, written when Springsteen was just a wannabe.
One of them, If I Was The Priest, appeared in his audition for the great talent-spotter John Hammond, back in 1972.
Long and winding, dynamic but derivative (of Dylan), these old songs bear the stamp of a young gun, so it’s fascinating to hear them sung by a septuagenarian (he turned 71 last month).
Springsteen is in fine voice throughout – commanding, raucous, then suddenly tender. What a Boss.
Buy this album and play it loud. For an hour your home will be full of warmth, and decency, and people.