Bruce has often tried to be a social commentator on the state of America. Hell, you only need to look closely at ‘Born In The USA’ to appreciate that it’s not the rebel-rousing anthem for proud Americans everywhere. The reality is very far from that.
Starting with ‘We Take Care Of Our Own‘ which is a great rock song. The lyrics reveal a darker side, very much akin to ‘Born In…’. With a verse which asks “…where is the work, where is the spirit, where is the promise…” it is clear that Bruce once again has an agenda; this time to comment on the broken state of America for the common man.
‘Easy Money’ has a great collective chorus which continues the theme into ‘Shackled and Drawn’ which sounds even more folky and collective. Track four comes upon you quickly, and in ‘Jack of all Trades’ we have a gorgeous waltz, sad and heartfelt. The story of someone who is unemployed and simply wants to work in modern-day America. Anything; be it mow the lawn or mend a broken roof. Springsteen has always related to the working classes in denim and checked shirt. Nowhere is it clearer on Wrecking Ball than here.
Also worth mentioning specifically is title track, ‘Wrecking Ball’ which is uplifting and gospel. I love the sound on this track, and it very much reminds me of the sound James have with it’s trumpet and soaring verse-to-chorus refrain. There is light at the end of the tunnel and if you read the song titles in order you can see a dark and difficult story building to an ending which perhaps isn’t so bleak in ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’, and ‘We Are Alive’.
It took me a number of listens to get into this album, as musically it is a shift from last release Working On A Dream. That shift resonates clearly however as the mood of America has changed and therefore so must the social commentary. What we have here is a politically-charged Bruce Springsteen who is angry and frustrated, resorting to a collective sound of togetherness and inclusion for those of us who felt excluded, be it about America, war, the economy, provincialism or revolution.
Wrecking Ball continues to add to the phenomenal back catalogue that Bruce Springsteen has created, and is without doubt his angriest album yet, even if he chooses musically to use Irish Folk and Southern Gospel rather than “rawk!” to show that anger.