Springsteen’s latest album is an impassioned response to the global financial crisis, the corporate greed that caused it, and its consequences for the lives of ordinary people. As Springsteen expresses it: Up on banker’s hill, the party’s going strong/Down here below we’re shackled and drawn.
Musically, Wrecking Ball delivers the trademark E Street Band sound combined with the rollicking folk style characterising Springsteen’s 2006 Seeger Sessions. Gospel influences are also evident on tracks such as “Rocky Ground” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”. The mood of the songs ranges from poignant (“Jack of All Trades”) through to angrily defiant (“Wrecking Ball”) and inspirational (“We are Alive”). In the anthem “We Take Care of Our Own” Springsteen reworks American patriotism as a rousing call for social justice, in the manner of a modern-day Woody Guthrie.
This CD also features the last recordings of sax great and long-time Springsteen colleague Clarence Clemons, movingly eulogised by Bruce in the album’s liner notes.
Springsteen has always utilised Biblical imagery — from promised lands to baptismal rivers — in his narratives of exile, loss, hope, and homecoming and this continues in Wrecking Ball.
In Springsteen’s visionary words: It feels like the world’s gonna change/And we’ll start caring for each other/Like Jesus said that we might/ I’m a Jack of all trades, we’ll be all right.