If all musicians took their tried and tested path over and over again the world would be a boring place.
It takes the bold and the brave to deviate from the norm, and go against the grain and deliver the unexpected – cue Bruce Springsteen. Besides a recent successful run on Broadway, and somewhat of a break from the E-Street Band, the Boss has been crafting his first new solo record in fourteen years.
With a career spanning in excess of 50 years, it would have been easy for Springsteen to repeat his previous formulas to ensure the commercial success of his latest record. However, it’s really inspiring to see artists of this stature still pushing themselves creatively and artistically into new territory.
From the opening notes of “Hitch Hikin’,” the listener is under no illusion that this is no ordinary Springsteen album. With its dramatic soundscape and Bruce’s unmistakable vocal, you can’t help but stop yourself from smiling. This astounding long player truly is a joy to behold.
Western Stars continues with the second song – “The Wayfarer”. With its old school cool quality you can almost imagine this may well have been the kind of number that Ol Blue Eyes himself – Frank Sinatra might have crafted if he had dabbled in Americana music.
Of course, the E-Street band has always had such a huge sound, with so many working elements combined. And whilst the group may not feature on Bruce’s latest solo project and the musical components featured may be slightly different on this record, tracks like the joyous and heartfelt “Tuscon Train” still feature some undertones of Springsteen’s legendary outfit.
Highlights from the release such as “Western Stars”, “Sleepy Joe’s Café” and “Chasin’ Wild Horses” bring together the perfect marriage of traditional instruments found in Americana music such as lap steel, accordion and banjo. Each of these beautiful musical components adds texture to great effect.
The overall flow of this record is sublime. From start to finish the spellbinding soundscape painted by Springsteen when accompanied by the symphony of sweeping strings featured on the record creates somewhat of a cinematic journey, which almost feels like a traditional Western movie score.
It goes without saying that we are currently witnessing somewhat of a country music renaissance right now. On the flip side, there is a real trend towards artists from that musical segment to gravitate towards a more mainstream contemporary sound. You’ve just got to look at Kasey Musgrave’s latest Grammy Award-winning record Golden Hour to see this in effect.
However, despite this, there is a reason why they call Bruce Springsteen the Boss, and that’s because he’s a leader, not a follower. By defying trends within the industry, with Western Stars, the New Jersey native has delivered an authentic Americana album that stays true to the roots of the genre itself. For Springsteen’s latest offering he has truly flexed his creative muscles to deliver a timeless slice of Americana, that sits perfectly inside of his incredible discography.
Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen will be released on Friday 14th June via Columbia Records.