THE BOSS’S 19TH STUDIO ALBUM IS A GORGEOUS, COUNTRY/FOLK INFUSED EXPLORATION OF AT ONCE OPENNESS AND ISOLATION
BY MATT SCANLON
For Bruce Springsteen fans generally, and Jerseyites particularly, waiting five years between studio albums is something like purgatory, so, when The Boss announced that Western Stars would be available on June 14, we got our preorder keyboard fingers a tappin’. A Columbia Records release, and produced by Ron Aniello (who has helped with production for Shania Twain, Barenaked Ladies, Guster, and many other performers and bands), the 13 track disc encompasses a remarkable diversity of American musical styles, yet dependably courses back to a unique brand of country infused folk pop. In the process, it explores Springsteen’s often articulated fascinations for both vast spaces and isolation. Aniello also plays bass, keyboard, and other instruments for the album, while Springsteen’s wife and longtime collaborator, Patti Scialfa, provides vocals and vocal arrangements. More than 20 additional performers are also on board, including Jon Brion, David Sancious, Charlie Giordano, and Soozie Tyrell.
Tunnel of Love and the haunting acoustic guitar work of The Ghost of Tom Joad, Western Stars, as The Boss’s PR company, Shore Fire Media, explained in a statement, “draws inspiration in part from Southern California pop records of the late 1960s and early 1970s.” Springsteen added in a tweet that “This record is a return to my solo recordings, featuring character driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements. It’s a jewel box of a record.”
Now upon our sixteenth listen, we count ourselves firmly in agreement.