Springsteen's 13th studio album is a self indulgent rag bag of second rate songs.
Jack Smith 2005
My CD player has turned into a rock critic. No sooner was the Devils And Dust album loaded than the display was protesting "BAD DISC". Sadly no-one at Sony Music seems to have had the guts to tell The Boss that.
This is his 13th studio album and that's unlucky for the millions of devotees who will have bought it on trust, only to find it's a self indulgent rag bag of second rate songs. If you're not already into Springsteen please don't start here.
Because you won't find the trademark poetry and pathos of songs like "Atlantic City", "The River", "Racing In The Street" or "Thunder Road". You won't hear his distinctive delivery as he flirts with Neil Young style falsetto, Dylan-esque mumbling, and the summery sound of Mungo Jerry. Yes, listen out for "In the Summertime" Springsteen style.
This must be his Woodie Guthrie tribute album. Having turned his back on the urban post industrial decay of the East Coast (oh get me!)he's sadlled up and, accompanied by the likes of the Nashville Strings, headed out West. The trail leads us through the rugged mountains and sparkling streams of the "Caroline", the swamps of Louisiana, and the open plains of Oklahoma and Texas. We even find him, trousers down, in a Nevada whorehouse.
Cars have been replaced by prancing ponies. Meanstreets by stony tracks, the Jersey shoreline by the Rio Grande. Even Mary, his love interest in so many of his songs has gone TexMex.She's now Maria. So grab your favourite cowboy/girl, crack open a bottle of bourbon, sit out under the stars and enjoy. Because, with some really neat picking, great Steve Earle style guitar licks and fine fiddling this "Bruce-lite album" is a great sound.
Shame that the guy who gave us "Born To Run" thirty years ago in November, seems to have run out of steam.