Bruce Springsteen Western Stars
Rolling Stone: 4 stars out of 5 -- "[O]nce you settle in, the set reveals some of Springsteen's most beguiling work ever."
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- Released: June 14, 2019
- Originally Released: 2019
- Label: Columbia Records
Rolling Stone4 stars out of 5 -- "[O]nce you settle in, the set reveals some of Springsteen's most beguiling work ever."
Rolling StoneIncluded in Rolling Stone's "The 50 Best Albums of 2019 -- "[A]n album that evokes late-Sixties and early-Seventies California pop, complete with swelling string arrangements..."
Entertainment Weekly"Few artists pair broad vision and intimate character detail with as balanced a hand as the Boss, who reminds us that redemption is possible and the land of hope and dreams can be a real place."
Billboard - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The Boss buckles up for his cowboy album, taking us in countless fascinating directions. It's the most charming and enjoyable he's sounded in quite some time..."
Billboard - "[A] winning blend of roots-rock and orchestral pop....Springsteen's loving tribute to a rich American musical tradition stands on its own."
NME (Magazine)4 stars out of 5 -- "The Boss buckles up for his cowboy album, taking us in countless fascinating directions. It's the most charming and enjoyable he's sounded in quite some time..."
Paste (magazine) - "WESTERN STARS is full of sweeping symphonic passages that evoke the endless skies and open spaces of the American West."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Bruce Springsteen returns with elegiac and wise songwriting conjuring the golden expanse of the American West; it's his best studio album in years."
Clash (Magazine) - "[H]ere Springsteen comfortably occupies his long-foreshadowed role as a wise outlaw who's seen more pretenders come and go than most of us have had cooked dinners."
- 1.Hitch Hikin'
- 2.The Wayfarer
- 3.Tucson Train
- 4.Western Stars
- 5.Sleepy Joe's Café
- 6.Drive Fast (The Stuntman)
- 7.Chasin' Wild Horses
- 9.Somewhere North of Nashville
- 11.There Goes My Miracle
- 12.Hello Sunshine
- 13.Moonlight Motel
Personnel: Bruce Springsteen (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12-string guitar, banjo, piano, celesta, Hammond b-3 organ, Mellotron, string synthesizer, glockenspiel, percussion); Ron Aniello (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, celesta, synthesizer, string synthesizer, vibraphone, upright bass, drums, percussion, loops, background vocals); Jon Brion (electric guitar); Annaliesa Place, Emily Popham, Jung Sun Yoo, Elizabeth Lim, Joanna Maurer, Hyunju Lee, Lisa Kim, Suzanne Ornstein, Sharon Yamada (violin); Alan Stepansky , Nathan Vickery (cello).
Audio Mixer: Tom Elmhirst.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York; Ocean Studios; Sage and Sound, NJ; Stone Hill Studio, NJ; Studio Hill Studio, NJ; Very Loud House, New York.
Photographers: Kalle Gustafsson; Danny Clinch.
Western Stars is a title that suggests wide-open, cinematic vistas, music made for the outer reaches of a widescreen. Such sweeping ambition isn't necessarily alien to Bruce Springsteen, a rocker who designed his self-styled 1975 breakthrough as a larger-than-life hybrid of AM pop and FM album rock profundity -- a daring fusion that eventually favored the latter, perhaps because it was easier for the E-Street Band to fill arenas with cranked amps and big riffs. Western Stars contains none of that rabble rousing. Springsteen plays and writes with a gentle touch on this 2019 album, his empathy evident in his series of story songs and character portraits and in his embrace of another aspect of AM radio that he previously avoided: orchestrated arrangements so rich and enveloping they can sound softly trippy. Taking his cues from the lush hits Jimmy Webb wrote for Glen Campbell, Springsteen never opts for music that is as opulently ornate as his inspirations. His words are a little too direct, for one, a combination of cannily sturdy clich‚s tempered by startling turns of phrase that pulls songs into perspective. The clich‚s are intentional. All of its allusions to the culture of the '60s and early '70s -- the swirling strings, the songs of wanderlust, the wink to Leiber & Stoller in the title of "Sleepy Joe's Caf‚," a nod to Danny O'Keefe's "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" on "Hello Sunshine" -- conjure a collective memory of a time when hippie ideals faded in the dawn of the '70s. This isn't a piece of nostalgia on Springsteen's part, though. These references deepen a collection of songs that are sweet, sad, and searching, songs that feel finely etched on their own terms but gather a deep, lasting resonance when collected on this enchanting album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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