Bruce Springsteen's Letter To You - What You Need To Know
You might not think that an artist as prolific and experienced as Bruce Springsteen would suffer from a bout of writer’s block, but according to the man himself, that’s what seemed to be happening over the last few years, stating in a 2017 interview with Variety that he hadn’t written any new material for some time.
Happily, though, that dry spell appears to be over as ‘The Boss’ returns this week with his 20th studio album – and the first to feature his longtime backing musicians The E Street Band since 2014’s High Hopes.
Announced last month with the title Letter To You, Springsteen’s new album makes its arrival in stores today. Here’s everything you need to know…
A little background…
Those keeping an eye on Springsteen’s movements will no doubt be aware that, despite not creating much in terms of new material, he’s been keeping himself busy with other activities, including a long-running residency at New York’s Broadway theatre, in which Springsteen combined stripped-back, intimate renditions of some of his finest tunes with stories and tales of his (almost) half-century as one of America’s best-loved artists. The shows also culminated in a film, Broadway, which gave those not lucky enough to attend in person a chance to get in on the action when it made its debut on Netflix in 2018.
The new album was, by all accounts, written very quickly in a burst of post-writer’s-block creativity and contains 12 tracks in all – nine of them new, and three of them reworked and re-recorded version of tracks that were originally written for his 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, but never released.
Who’s producing it?
Ron Aniello and Springsteen himself are manning the controls for this one, recording the whole thing live, with no overdubs, at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey.
Any special guests?
Nope, it’s just Springsteen and The E Street band all the way on the new LP.
What does it sound like?
If Springsteen was struggling with the writing side as much as he suggested, you wouldn’t know it to listen to the new album. Songs like the title track and ‘Ghosts’ seem effortless and the whole thing is a relatively uptempo affair, dispensing with the strings and country vibes on recent album Western Stars with something more akin to his trademark, rocking sound.
The decision to record everything live makes all the difference too, giving the tracks on the new album an added vitality, which often contrasts with the intimate and highly personal nature of the lyrical themes featured across the new LP’s 12 tracks.
Does it deliver?
While there are plenty of artists who’ve been around as long as The Boss that are still making new music, not all of them could claim to have retained the same level of consistency in terms of the quality of songwriting, but Bruce Springsteen still manages to not only perform live at the highest level, but also create new material that would stand up to many of his all-time greats in any setlist.
Letter To You is not only one of his most personal albums in a long time, it might just be his best in years.