In the name of full disclosure I have to admit that I’ve been in the bag for Bruce Springsteen since 1978. Since Darkness on the Edge of Town got under my skin and stayed there (all of the incessant “future of rock and roll” hype for Born to Run three years earlier irked the skeptical soul in me and I, foolishly, passed on that one at first.) And so the chances that I was not going to like this disc were slim at best (which is not to say that Bruce hasn’t misfired now and again…The Ghost of Tom Joad was earnest but kinda boring, 18 Tracks was a well-intentioned rip-off, Live in New York City was okay but not really necessary, and Human Touch was a bit too slick for its own good.)
Early word about Devils and Dust led one to believe it was a stripped down, starkly acoustic affair like the wondrous
Devils and Dust is filled with atmospheric, insightful stories…about lost sons (one dealing with his mother's death in “Silver Palomino”, another living a hardscrabble life as a boxer in “The Hitter”, yet another finding his way from the shelter of his mother's smile to life on his own in "Black Cowboys") and prostitutes (“Reno”, a somewhat graphic song that earned this disc Bruce’s first parental warning label), soldiers (the Iraqi War inspired title song) and saviors (“Jesus Was an Only Son”) and lovers (the sweetly randy “Maria’s Bed” and “All I’m Thinkin’ About”, a gently driving love song sung in an effective falsetto) and other souls with poignant tales to tell…mostly told in a burnished, heartfelt twang that suits these fine songs to a tee.
It’s a lovely record indeed (and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been in the bag for Bruce since ’77…really I’m not ... :-)
(This disc is one of the “dual discs” that are starting to be pushed. It has the CD on one side and a