Get yourself some cowboy boots and a 10 gallon hat, because The Boss is back with his 19th studio album, a country album called Western Stars. I’m sure a lot of people- myself included, who don’t listen to a lot of Springsteen but can appreciate and acknowledge that he is in fact ‘The Boss’- think of Springsteen as the born and bred true American man. For some, the American dreamboat tough guy from ‘Jersey who rocks out on his thrift store Telecaster. But Springsteen had a taste for the country music life in the late 90s and early 00s with little commercial success, however, makes up for it with his newest release. Being one of the better releases of his career since his “Born To Run” days, Springsteen takes us on a mellow ride through the ole west with wisdom and calmness.
Looking back on some of his prime-time hits, Springsteen has a natural twang and Johnny Cash-like tone which is effortlessly country all over. On this album, nearing his 70th birthday, Springsteen goes all out country- from heavy slide guitar to the blatant and cliched country themed song titles and themes. He begins with a steady paced “Hitch Hickin’”, a strong yet mellow opener with seamless finger picked acoustic sequences. Springsteen also reminds us of his perfect and un-aged pipes on this opener, and even more so on “Tucson Train” which follows- a sweet and empowering ballad and expeditionary track. His title track is both powerful and eloquent in typical Springsteen fashion, with storytelling quality matching the uplifting instrumentation and organisation. We see next a cute and cheery hometown tune, “Sleepy Joe’s Cafe”, the melancholy biographical track of a beaten and battered hero in “Drive Fast (The Stuntman)”, and “Chasin’ Wild Horses”, all supplying a collection of tales from a cowboy character that Springsteen portrays with raw emotion and gumption.
The previous track subtly transitions to “Sundown”, with “Somewhere North of Nashville” takes on a Bob Dylan style progression and lyrical value- “All I’ve got is this melody / and time, to heal”- in a quaint 1min50sec track. “Stones” and “There Goes My Miracle” appear the more outlying tracks, allowing to be two of the more memorable tracks in that of their differences whilst simple, they do stand out from the other tracks in that of a turnpoint towards a conclusion. “Hello Sunshine” appears a ‘riding of into the sunset’ tone with “no place to be and miles to go” alongside an accompanying marching snare, followed by a lullaby-like set down of “Moonlight Motel”.
“Western Stars” stands out as a definitive turning point for the future of Springsteen’s career and works. The rock veteran provides a cowboy storybook of war-tales as a credit to his own career, showing his battle scars and welcoming us to listen in on his enduring nature.