Sound — 7
With producer Brendan O'Brien, Springsteen, inspired by Obama's victory, created a poppy and happy record in Working on a Dream. The album takes a step backwards in going back to his pop days with Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ with influences from Brian Wilson and the Byrds. Some songs are great like "Outlaw Pete" which has the raw production from the Landau/Van Zandt days but then you have "This Life" which takes O'Brien's approach to a whole separate level.
Lyrics — 7
Springsteen goes on and off with this album. Where you have "Outlaw Pete" and "Kingdom of Days" you have lyrics that are poetic like Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ but with "Surprise, Surprise" and "Queen of the Supermarket" where he's just gotten lazy and repeats over and over again. Springsteen's voice sounds poppy like it did in Greetings or "Hungry Heart".
Overall Impression — 7
This album isn't Springsteen's best regardless of what Rolling Stone says. It seems like it was rushed and just sounds overproduced and this shows that the Brendan O'Brien era must end. While Magic, D&D, and the Rising had nice production, it seems that his pop production has gone too far. Song-by-song Working on a Dream doesn't seem that great. I made a blog about this recently but here it is. I was going to copy and paste it but it takes to long to load so I'll take it from memory. "Outlaw Pete"- 10/10- It has a great driving beat and a great story. "My Lucky Day"- 8/10- Great opener; great sound "Working on a Dream"- 4/10- I can't stand it, it's just a lame and boring song "Queen of the Supermarket"- 5/10- Same issue as WOAD "What Love Can Do"- 10/10- One of the best on the album "This Life"- 6/10- same issue with WOAD but it has more tempo and orchestration "Good Eye"- 8/10- I'm glad he finally got the bullet mic in a record, good sound but he could try a little more on the lyrics "Tomorrow Never Knows"- 8/10- It sounds a lot like Seeger Session stuff, but I like it "Life Itself"- 8/10- Great story with great sound "Kingdom of Days"- 8/10- It's really poppy but it has a good rhythm "Surprise Surprise"- 7/10- Good rhythm its just a lame song "The Last Carnival"- 7/10- I really wanted to like this song after Danny but I couldn't get into it, I mean i loved "Terry's Song" and understood it after knowing Terry but I couldn't get into to TLC "The Wrestler"- 10/10- Perfect with the movie Now while this album isn't crap, it isn't Springsteen's best. Perhaps after being a Springsteen fan for so long I expect too much. I just feel that when you bat .750 the whole time, batting .500 seems to suck way more.