You’re not The Boss of me, now! And you’re not so big! Except you are, because you’re Bruce Springsteen.* Western Stars finds bossman Brucie back from Broadway and turning in another set of paeans to The Common American. ‘Hitch Hikin’’, ‘Tucson Train’ and ‘Sleepy Joe’s Cafe’ are the sort of things he could have called his tracks at any point in his discography. Sounds like a Bruce Springsteen album, though a bit mellower and more wistful than some of his previous efforts.
*On a side note - why do people call Springsteen ‘The Boss’ anyway? If he’s meant to be on the side of the working man, why does he consistently side with management? Surely it couldn’t be that dear Bruce licks boots? [editorial note: Bruce has said in the past he does not like the name because he dislikes bosses and I will not stand idly by while his good name is dragged through the dirt.]
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We probably didn’t need to have a review of the new Bruce Sprinsteen record on here, you all seem to have figured out that it’s worth buying. But sometimes you want to do something nice for yourself. I wanted to review 'Western Stars'. It’s a tough world out there, no shame in a little self-indulgence.
I’m not the only person thinking about himself mind, because the Boss’s latest entry is also more than a little self-indulgent. There’s no E-Street Band here, no hands in the air proper thrilling anthems. 'Western Stars' sees Bruce acting like the MOR mid 70s star he’s clearly always wanted to be. The songs are almost unbearably cheesy, made all the more ridiculous for him being backed by a lush orchestra. He sounds like Scott Walker before he started being weird (particularly on the elating ‘There Goes My Miracle’). And you know what, Scott Walker was good before he was weird.
Though Bruce has definitely fallen to the so-called ‘yeehaw agenda’, singing about horses and hitchhiking and drinking Jack Daniels, at its core this is the same ground he’s been treading his whole career. His genius has been making people feel like they understand what it is to be American working class. Where in the past his focus was what went on in cities, here it's squarely in the country. Where previously there were hand built cars, here Bruce is ‘Chasin’ Wild Horses’.
But even with all these changes, the music still hits hard. Incredibly hard. Yes this album was probably more for him than us, but the result has been one of his best albums for years.
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