Bruce Springsteen- Magic (Columbia)

The Arts — By on October 2, 2007 at 1:09 pm

“Pour me a drink, Theresa/ in one of those glasses you dust off/ and I’ll watch the bones in your back like the stations of the cross…” With this opening salvo in the song “I’ll Work For Your Love” from his latest album, Bruce Springsteen neatly and poetically encapsulates one facet of his thirty plus years of mass appeal- the mixture of the sacred and the profane. It brings a smile to one’s face to picture fiftysomething Bruce on a barstool leering at the barmaid’s backside while church bells simultaneously ring in his ears. The old guard might argue that Dylan has been doing the same kind of balancing act even longer than Springsteen, but what Bruce has always had over Dylan is the x-factor- the willingness to rock. Sure, he’s been known to down a few in solitary at the bar, but The Boss is always up for cutting loose with his blood brothers out in the street.

On Magic, his fifteenth studio album, Springsteen attempts to get all of his musical personalities to peacefully co-exist in the same song cycle. The strongest showing seems to come from the hungry-hearted E-Street rocker inside of him, as “Radio Nowhere” (“867-5309” guitar and all) demonstrates. Similarly winning is “Livin’ In The Future”, which would sound so at home on 1980’s The River that you can practically see Bruce’s iconic flannel shirt and the blue lettering. Mature, complex Tunnel Of Love Bruce is in full effect on “Your Own Worst Enemy”, “I’ll Work For Your Love”, and “Last To Die.” The only disappointment in the Magic hat is the false bottom- folky, downbeat, Nebraska Bruce didn’t bring his A-game. “Devil’s Arcade” and the title track aren’t bad songs, they just don’t remain with the listener the way that the more high octane stuff does. Elsewhere, Springsteen blends the elements of his personal trinity into effective alloys that support the showpieces already mentioned here. How does The Boss keep making vital records like this when he’s old enough to be your grandpa? In the words of 70’s one hit wonders Pilot: “Oh, oh, oh, it’s Magic.”

RATING (1-10): 8

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