Springsteen’s latest recreates the magic

Christopher Diers

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band have enjoyed a renewed relevance during the past eight years beginning with 2002’s excellent post-9/11 offering.

“The Rising” and continuing with 2007’s high energy, politically-charged rock opus “Magic.”

With an appearance at this year’s Super Bowl, the announcement of a four-month stadium tour commencing in April, and 1978’s excellent “Darkness on the Edge of Town” being re-issued as a re-mastered set with tons of extra goodies later this year, it looks like we’re all going to be seeing our fair share of The Boss in 2009.

As a long-time fan myself (go on, try to embarrass me), I was thrilled to hear that we also have a brand-new album, “Working on a Dream,” to dig into.

The album begins with the eight-minute cowboy anthem “Outlaw Pete”; a string section builds the tension with Springsteen’s familiar gravelly croon narrating the story of the titular outlaw while the E Street band sweep in behind him, rising up like a river about to flood.

The track ends with a solemn harmonica echoing in the distance before the band kicks into “My Lucky Day”, revisiting the classic hard-driving E Street sound.

For the most part, the rest of the album keeps the ball rolling, delivering heavy doses of Springsteen’s familiar traits, and enough new surprises to justify throwing down a couple of bucks for a new album from an artist with an already impeccable discography.

There are a couple of blunders, though they are few and far between.

“Queen of the Supermarket” is trivial at best and outright corny at worst and the lyrics to “Surprise Surprise” seem like they were written at the 11th hour in an effort to complete the record.

Overall, “Working on a Dream” is quite an accomplishment, in some instances finding the band conjuring an impressive wall of sound, others evoking the quieter elements of folk, country and blues.