Many musicians have taken a quick drive down Main Street over the past few years, mining for stories of a recession-plagued America.
But for his latest album “Wrecking Ball,” Bruce Springsteen has situated himself on the front porch along that same street, as the 11-track album is focused on a promised land that is at the end of ever-lengthening dark tunnel on the edge of town.
At 62, the rock populist from the swamps of Jersey has updated the themes of poverty and desperation of 1982’s “Nebraska” and 1995’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” but instead of those stark acoustic diaries, Springsteen has largely left the E Street Band behind to explore a free-wheeling Americana sound reminiscent of his 2006 album “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.”
Packed with more references to God than a U2 record, Springsteen’s songs of trouble aren’t as haunting or as detailed as those on “Nebraska,” but on songs like the piano-waltz “Jack of All Trades,” he is single-minded in his anger about the 1 percent: “If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight.”
With 33 musicians in the credits, including a more prominent role for violinist Soozie Tyrell, the vibe of the record is one of a hurricane-party hootenanny on the front porch of a Main Street house about to be foreclosed on.
“Hard times come and hard times go,” he sings, “ Yeah, just to come again.”
Grade: B; Release date: March 6, 2012