This is not to say that all Springsteen records are created equally. There are some…Darkness, The River, Nebraska, Tunnel of Love, Live /1975-85, The Rising, We Shall Overcome…that I return to over and over finding enormous satisfaction each time; while there are others…Human Touch, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Devils and Dust…that do not draw me nearly as often (though they have their own rewards just the same.)
At first blush it seems that Working on a Dream will most like fall into the first group.
It starts with the epic tale of “Outlaw Pete” (an 8 minute story song about a cowboy maverick) and ends with the Golden Globe winning theme from “The Wrestler” (a spare, rueful elegy that somehow managed not to get an Oscar nomination) and in-between there’s vibrant, optimistic vibe that was largely missing from the last couple of CDs Springsteen and the E Street Band did together.
Songs of love and passion and redemption are the currency of this engaging record. Some of the songs…the nakedly romantic “What Love Can Do”, the optimistic “This Life”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and the infectious title track…have a sprightly bounce that will sound great booming through car stereos on bright blue summer days.
Even the bluesy rock and roll snarl of “Good Eye” hugs you like an old friend and holds on tight.
“Kingdom of Days” is a delightfully soaring number…I watch the sun as it rises and sets/I watch the moon trace its arc with no regrets…that makes as good a theme statement for the CD as any other song on it.
The playing is, of course, tight…even if Clarence Clemons’ iconic saxophone only makes a few fleeting appearances…the songs are charming and heartfelt, and Bruce is in fine voice throughout.
Yeah, I am in the bag for Bruce…and it’s records like Working on a Dream that makes me very happy to be there.