Bruce Springsteen is not known for his records. His live shows are legendary, and his greatest hits compilations are stacked, but The Boss’ albums are often lacking. I’ve had the misfortune of listening to his two most recent, and like most of the world, was unimpressed. I’ve listened to Darkness on the Edge of Town, one of his older records, and it still didn’t blow me away. There are a few solid tracks mixed in with way too much garbage—so there’s no saying that he got worse over time. Naturally, I was a little leery when I saw a Springsteen record on my Dad-Rock Tuesday list. I figured it would just be another Bruce CD—a record with a little solid stuff, but a lot more awful.
Let me start off by saying that this is not the Springsteen that I know. His trademark voice is still there, but has a sad, tortured twinge to it. I also noticed that the E Street Band is absent. It’s just Bruce, a guitar, and a harmonica, for almost the entire record.
All of that makes for a much better full album than what I was expecting. The usual over-the-top full band insanity that is the average Springsteen record is completely absent. Nebraska is powerful and consistently entertaining.
With tales of murders, criminals, corrupt cops, and everything in-between, this album actually sounds more like a Johnny Cash record than the goofy stuff that I was used to. Of course, with a record cover like that, I really should have expected better.
Depressing, dark, and personal are three words that I would have never used to describe Springsteen’s music before. I’m glad I heard this, though, as I now have a whole new view of The Boss and his tunes.