We are accustomed to expect the unexpected with Bruce Springsteen who once again
follows his heart down the line and records some of his favorite soul and R&B songs.
The surprising factor is not the “soul” element –after all, soul music can be traced at
various configurations on Springsteen’s back catalogue- but the thing that Springsteen
chooses songs that he had never performed live before in his 50-year career and that
says it all considering the epic nature of his legendary 4-hour shows!
It was also not surprising, at least for me personally, that E Street Band was missing
in the overall shaping and recording of the project. This is mainly a two-men show as
Bruce and Ron Aniello handle the vast majority of the instruments. E Street Band
would not fit to this project which is really Bruce’s brainchild in the same vein of The
Seeger Sessions back in 2006. The really positive thing on the album is that Bruce
sings his heart out and interprets flawlessly those classics. Yes, he might have this
sound in his DNA but at the same time it’s not his strongest characteristic of his
voice. In addition, the backing vocals on this album are absolutely brilliant and we all
know how important this aspect is for soul and R&B music. Having said that, I can
also see an obvious sonic gap when it comes down to the overall sound of those
songs. They sound kinda thin; they are not so grandiose. Maybe it has to do with the
lack of a true backing band. Maybe it’s just me…after all, I am not the biggest soul or
R&B fan…I don’t know.
The truth is that Springsteen is absolutely sensational upon covering those songs by
Frankie Valli, Four Tops, The Temptations, William Bell, Ben E. King, Commodores
etc. That’s what counts really. “Only The Strong Survive” is an…intermission. That’s
how I see it. We are all waiting for things to get back to normal function; to a rock n’
roll mode with the E Street Band. Until then, we are preparing our luggage for the
2023 European Tour. See you all down the road…
Highlight: The “Vol. I” in the title is alarming or what…?