by Chris McGlynn
Iconic Jersey native Bruce Springsteen enters his fourth decade of making music with the release of his latest albumHigh Hopes, featuring famed Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
Like many kids growing up in New Jersey, I lived in a household that idolized “The Boss.” However, having listened to Springsteen for so long, I was a little disappointed by this album due to its lack of continuity; it causes fans to miss Springsteen’s good old “Glory Days.”
The title of the track, “Harry’s Place,” causes fans to think of “Mary’s Place” from Springsteen’s 2002 album The Rising, but the two could not be any more different. For every bit that “Mary’s Place” is upbeat and friendly, “Harry’s Place” is sinister and off-putting. However, Springsteen conveys his anger well, in a low, barely discernible voice. “Harry’s Place” fails to deliver on expectations of an upbeat song but is successful in its own right.
Springsteen also included a re-recorded track from 1999, “American Skin,” featuring Morello. According to songfacts.com, the song refers to a “Guinean immigrant who was killed...when New York City police shot at him 41 times after mistaking his wallet for a gun.” The track is a fitting tribute with its serious tone and a deliberate pull on listener’s emotions.
The album closes with the ballad, “Dream Baby Dream,” which puts a mellow end to Springsteen’s eighteenth studio album. The title suggests the song would be uplifting, but it falters and comes off as depressing. The missing element is a Clarence Clemons saxophone solo, an element Springsteen has been unable to recreate since “The Big Man’s” passing in 2011. The disheartening ending is unfortunate on an album titled High Hopes.
Although there’s lyrical repetition and a lack of flow throughout, overall, Springsteen produced an intriguing album, with a mix for fans new and old.