There will be those that believe a millionaire rock star singing about poor people and hard work, as Bruce Springsteen so passionately does on his powerful new album “Wrecking Ball,” to be the height of hypocrisy. But to do so would be both shortsighted and uninformed. First, as a pedigreed Jersey shore rat raised in economically depressed Freehold, N.J., Springsteen knows a thing or two about economic frustration. And, secondly, anyone who has seen Springsteen perform at any one of thousands of shows over the past 40 years, with or without his E Street Band, is well aware that he packs his lunch pail every night and welcomes overtime.
“Wrecking Ball,” Springsteen’s 17th studio album, finds the artist exploring familiar working class territory, but with a vigor and fearlessness not seen since 2002’s equally-inspired “The Rising.” Produced by Springsteen with Ron Aniello, the characters that populate most of the album’s 11 tracks are generally having a pretty tough go of it, to say the least. While sometimes not above contemplating crime and murder, as with the anti-heroes in 1980’s thematically similar “Nebraska” would have opted, the protagonists of “Wrecking Ball” more often just want to put in an honest day’s work. With its gritty portrayal of the danger at hand when lives are lived on the edge of collapse, “Wrecking Ball” does indeed recall “Nebraska,” though the newer record is far more complex musically and more pointed in its observations.
More from our track-by-track review of Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball”