Bruce Springsteen – 'High Hopes’ album review

This ragbag of covers, retreads and offcuts feels like the Boss on autopilot

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5

The celebrity duet trend – in which artists cover their own back catalogue with the help of famous pals – came and mercifully went a few years back, hitting its apparent nadir with Ray Davies and Mumford And Sons conspiring to murder ‘Days’. But just when you thought it was safe, Bruce Springsteen inexplicably decides to revisit one of his loveliest, most politically piercing songs – 1995’s hushed acoustic hymn to economic migrancy, ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ – in the caterwauling company of Rage Against the Machine’s resident grumpy adolescent Tom Morello.

The result is seven turgid minutes of bellowing and shredding - think Nickelback meets Woody Guthrie. The rest of ‘High Hopes’ is more pleasant, but no less dispensible. It’s a ragbag of covers – a jangly take on The Saints’s ‘Just Like Fire Would’, a droning album highlight in Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’– and offcuts, many of which suffer from the same booming, happy-clappy overproduction that marred the recent ‘Wrecking Ball’.

There are highlights: joyous strumathon ‘Frankie Fell in Love’ sees Bruce in a goofy mood, while ‘American Skin’ is an old live favourite treated tastefully and ‘The Wall’ is a pompous but heartfelt ode to Jersey rocker and Vietnam casualty Walter Cichon. But overall this feels like the Boss on autopilot: big chords, big band, lashings of religious imagery but no real soul.

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