Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 58:17 minutes | 1,23 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Columbia
In 2019, as he blows out his 70 candles, The Boss releases Western Stars, an album out of sync with his own shots and unlike anything he has recorded so far. Ciao the E Street Band, its efficient group of movers that makes the stadiums rise, hello strings, brass and choirs ! The boss was transformed with this record into Glen Campbell of the third millennium, detaching himself from the present time, playing more the timeless card of innocence and nonchalance rather than that of resistance and defiance… a year later, Bruce Springsteen’s state of mind is not quite the same. For this Letter to You, he brought his E Street Band-or what’s left of it since the disappearances of Danny Federici (2008) and Clarence Clemons (2011) – to his home studio in New Jersey to record twelve songs in just five days ! This is far from the fourteen months it took Born To Run in 1974. The success of Letter To You owes much to this almost informal and organic context, looking like a meeting between old friends. The opening ballad, One Minute You’re Here, places this twentieth studio album under the sign of a certain nostalgia. As if Springsteen were singing in sepia, we would listen to it as we would leaf through an album of photos of loved ones more of this world and disfigured or disappeared places. He confides in himself more than he talks about invented characters. The effective single that gives its title to the album is there to reassure fans of the Golden Age of the E Street Band. Like the bodybuilder Burnin ‘ Train that we imagine already taken in heart at XXL concerts or the demented Ghosts, umpteenth demonstration that we can always make new with (very) old, on which he sings who he is, what he does and why everyone jumps in the pool with him. The whole album is so. As anchored in the Springsteen of the seventies. In this unadorned rock’n’roll energy, that only the voice of the boss, chiseled by the years, makes us understand that it dates well from 2020 and not from 1980. The perfect packaging for songs, often tubesque and introspective, that are just as much. Finally, the real surprise of this record is to hear a Springsteen even more at the top of his art than usual…
The arc of creative genius is predictable. In popular music, the simple answer is no one writes great songs forever. Success tends to dull raging emotions and satiate once endless hunger. In popular music few outside the Beatles can claim a run of success like that of Bruce Springsteen. From 1973’s Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. to 1987’s Tunnel of Love, The Boss wrote album after album’s worth of truly great songs. His muse returned on 1995’s acoustic The Ghost of Tom Joad and 2002’s 9/11 influenced triumph The Rising but has been sporadic ever since.
Always a searcher, Springsteen has now been re-energized as a songwriter by the twin calamities of loss and mortality. Letter To You, his 20th album, bears the impact not only of Clarence Clemons’ passing but also the recent revelation that he is now the last man alive from his first band, The Castiles. The man who once launched himself off PA towers with wild abandon, proclaiming his stone desire, has become a 71-year-old who’s finally played the ace card he’s had all along: a return to the studio with the E Street Band.
Recorded live with the band at his Stone Hill Studio near his New Jersey home, Letter To You—unlike marathon Springsteen sessions from the past—was tracked in a mere five days. The sound is not the crisp digital world of his solo projects but the full-bodied band sound chock-full of guitar chords, organs, glockenspiels, harmonicas, Roy Bittan’s piano and the welcome pounding of the mighty Max Weinberg. Clarence’s nephew Jake Clemons provides ghostly echoes of his uncle’s horn.
After opening with the acoustic solo number “One Minute You’re Here” with the singer laying his penny down on the tracks, the E Street vibe floods in on the title track. The acoustic piano-led “House of a Thousand Guitars,” speaks for “good souls near and far,” while “Rainmaker” hints at politics where “folks need to believe in something so bad.” Three old songs written in the ’70s anchor the album. “Janey Needs a Shooter,” written for Darkness on the Edge of Town and later loosely covered by Warren Zevon, has long been one of the strongest Bruce outtakes. He reaches back further, all the way to Greetings, for “If I Was the Priest,” and “Song for Orphans.” Both are solid and Dylanesque, filled with the dense often jabberwocky wordplay of his long-ago debut. Once exhilarating signs that a great talent was rising, these songs now indicate that after exploring many artistic sideroads, that same virtuoso has taken a step forward by returning to his roots. – Robert Baird
01. One Minute You’re Here
02. Letter To You
03. Burnin’ Train
04. Janey Needs A Shooter
05. Last Man Standing
06. The Power Of Prayer
07. House Of A Thousand Guitars
09. If I Was The Priest
11. Song For Orphans
12. I’ll See You In My Dreams