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high-hopes-bruce-springsteenReleased: 2013

It’s a testament to Bruce the Boss that he remains one of the hardest working figures in popular music. His shows will often go on as long as three and a half hours and he is now back with his 18th studio album, High Hopes, less than two years off the back of his previous effort.

In reality, the world isn’t screaming out for another Springsteen album, but you will more than likely miss them when he can no longer maintain his extraordinary work ethic.

This record is the swansong for E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici, but also sees veteran Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave guitar fiddler Tom Morello joining those illustrious ranks.

Morello has naturally toned down his experimental style of playing for the more straight-edged rock tunes from Bruce, but across the twelve tracks the energy is rampant and some good tunes are on display.

The brass stabs and world music feel of the opening High Hopes proves just how well travelled the veteran rocker is while a new version of The Ghost of Tom Joad will interest the more well-informed listener. American Skin (41 Shots), despite clocking in at over seven minutes is the record’s most enduring song, riding a wave of epic, emotive playing, and bows out veteran saxophonist Clemons in style with a suitably majestic solo.

Springsteen’s voice still carries a weight of experience and richness that suggests there is plenty of life in the old dog yet, and somehow still looks that good for his age.

High Hopes may not carry as much quality as the title implores, and a few more stand-out tracks that would sit easily in his live set would have been welcome. Nevertheless we should celebrate his stamina and look forward to a return to UK shores soon.

★★★

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