Working On A Dream Review

artist: Bruce Springsteen date: 03/04/2009 category: compact discs
Bruce Springsteen: Working On A Dream
Released: Jan 27, 2009
Genre: Rock
Label: Columbia Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
Working on a Dream is the 16th studio album by Bruce Springsteen, released on January 27, 2009.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 6.5
 Overall Impression: 7
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reviews (2) 3 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
Working On A Dream Reviewed by: Macoolest, on january 30, 2009
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Sound: The E Street Band has never sounded better than they do on "Working on a Dream". And that says a lot, because this is a band that has always sounded good. Interviews with the band reveals that their process of recording for this album harks back to their early classic Born To Run, with piano, bass, drums and Bruce himself cutting the basic tracks then lets the rest of the musicians add their own parts to it afterwards. And it works incredibly well, as the "E Street sound" is richer and bigger than it has ever been. The upbeat tone of the band that has always been present in the music, even though the lyrical content handled depressing subject matters, is still there. This time the lyrics are generally very upbeat as well, which makes the sound more effective. Some of the tracks also see the band go in slightly new directions, most notably in the tracks "Tomorrow Never Knows", with a slightly countryish feel to it, and the hard rocking, bluesy "Good Eye". What's missing in many of the songs sound-wise is the big, hooky chorus that are one of the Springsteen trademarks. It is present in some songs, like "My Lucky Day", but more often than not the chorus on this record comes across as repetitive rather than interesting (perhaps most true on the title track and "Surprise, Surprise"). // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics on Working On A Dream generally has a very optimistic feel, and most of them seems to be about happy memories of love. Nothing of the previous "Magic"'s politics are present. Springsteen's down-to-earth imagery is also present throughout the album (one of the songs is set in the supermarket and tells about the narrator's crush on one of the supermarket's employees). All of these are trademarks that fit well with the sound of the band, yet one can't help but feel dissapointed by most of the lyrics here. Bruce's lyrics has always had a certain heaviness to it, and if that wasn't present, one always got the feeling that he really cared about what he wrote - he made Nebraska, for God's sake! Sadly, the lyrics on Working On A Dream comes across as a little hurried and uncharacteristically light-hearted for Springsteen. We can't blame Bruce for being happy, but we can question his devotion to making songs that matters on this record. This impression is strengthened towards the end of the album, with two songs which obviously "matter", at least to himself. The first one, "The Last Carnival", is a tribute to recently diseased E Street Band member Danny Federici, sung as a metaphor to a circus-artist who has lost his companion. The other one is "The Wrestler", listed as a bonus track. This is the soundtrack to the film of the same name, and if the film is as good as the song, it will become a classic in the future. "The Wrestler" is Bruce at his rawest, with only a guitar and some synthesiser. The album would have benefited from more songs like these. // 6

Overall Impression: In the end, the often poor lyrical content is mostly saved by the majestic sound of the E Street Band, with a few exceptions. Some of the songs here are brilliant pop-tunes as well, like "My Lucky Day", the song which I would predict would get the most air-time on radio from this album. One can't help but think that Bruce should have a worked a harder on the lyrics for this album - after all, his previous album Magic was released just over a year ago. I think we happily could have waited a little longer. Still, I can imagine these songs working well live, and are excited on hearing them when Bruce starts touring again towards the summer. // 7

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overall: 7
Working On A Dream Reviewed by: brucehead, on march 04, 2009
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Sound: 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. // 7

Lyrics: 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". // 7

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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