our score: 4.5 out of 5.0
an album is released which seems to capture perfectly the spirit
of its time. Bruce Springsteen's new disc, The Rising,
is one such album. It is the best attempt by any musician to date
at capturing the emotions of post-9/11/01 America.
may not be Bruce's all-time best work. It lacks the timeless quality
of Born To Run, or the instant mass appeal of Born
in the USA, but it's certainly one of his most immediately
poignant and affecting. The album cries out to be viewed in the
context of 9/11, but with few exceptions, each song is open to
interpretation by the listener, which gives the album the universal
quality needed for all great art. This universality is what separates
a Hall of Famer like Springsteen from lesser songwriters.
Over the course of 15 songs, Bruce covers many
styles and emotions. There are ballads about trauma and loss,
such as "Nothing Man," "Empty Sky," and "You're
Missing," but there are also up tempo songs about hope and
renewal, like, "Countin' On a Miracle," "Lonesome
Day," "The Rising," and "Waitin' On a Sunny
"Into the Fire" is the one song Springsteen
has said he wrote specifically about 9/11 rescue workers. "May
your strength give us strength/May your faith give us faith/ May
your hope give us hope/May your love bring us love," he sings
with gospel choir backing in the song's simple but effective chorus.
"My City of Ruins", a song written about the economic
decay of Bruce's adopted hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey,
has similar power with its chorus commanding, "Come on, rise
up!" A Christian rock band like Third Day would be hard-pressed
to write songs which are more spiritually powerful than these
There are songs about cross-cultural understanding,
like "Worlds Apart," which features the vocal group
of Pakistani singer Asif Ali Khan, and the Motown and gospel inspired,
"Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)." The first verse of
"Paradise" takes the viewpoint of a suicide bomber.
Only an experienced observer of the human condition such as Springsteen
could pull off such a wide range of material so well.
Remarkably, there's still room left on the album
for some sexuality ("The Fuse") and good times with
old friends ("Mary's Place"). This album truly covers
all the bases.
Now we know why the rocker "Further On (Up
the Road)" which Bruce played often during his 10-night stand
at Madison Square Garden in 2000, wasn't included on last year's
2-CD live set. It is given a proper studio rendition here.
Springsteen, together with producer Brendan O'Brien,
who has worked with artists such as Pearl Jam and Rage Against
the Machine, went for a more ensemble-oriented approach on this
album. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish Bruce's voice over
the instrumentation and choirs, but it feels right. This is a
communal effort, and each player is given plenty of space to do
what he or she does best-from Clarence Clemons' sax, which is
featured often (always a good thing); to the always reliably solid
drumming of Max Weinberg; to guest violinist Soozie Tyrell, who
has become a member of the touring band this year.
Springsteen has in the E. Street Band what all
musicians desire-- a dedicated, talented and bonded backing band
which has stayed in tact for nearly 30 years. This is the first
album every member has contributed to since Born in the USA in
1984, and it's great to have them collaborating together again.
With the world as it is now, with the threat of terrorism hanging
over the free world and the economy in such bad shape, we desperately
needed Springsteen and his band to show us the way through with
rock 'n roll. With this album and tour to follow, they have, and
we can all be thankful. This isn't just your parents' music. It's
for everybody. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best rock albums
of the year.
liked The Rising...
1. Lonesome Day
2. Into The Fire
3. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
4. Nothing Man
5. Countin' On A Miracle
6. Empty Sky
7. Worlds Apart
8. Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)
9. Further On (Up The Road)
10. The Fuse
11. Mary's Place
12. You're Missing
13. The Rising
15. My City Of Ruins