Bruce Springsteen released his 20th studio album on Friday, Nov. 11, titled “Only The Strong Survive.” The 73-year-old rock ’n’ roll legend is still producing music with his original bluesy rock sound.
The opening song of the first track shares the album’s title and delivers a great soulful, raspy voice sound that sets the tone for the following songs. “The Boss” does not deter from his signature sound; then again, why fix something that ain’t broke? If you are a fan of Springsteen’s music then you will be a fan of this album.
Jumping right onto the next song, “Soul Days,” Springsteen features a frequent collaborator — the very talented soul singer Sam Moore. Moore is the only feature on the album, appearing in “Soul Days” and “I Forgot to be Your Lover.”
As someone who tends to focus more on the lyrics when listening to music I noticed that much of the content in this album caters to the baby-boomer generation. There is a theme of reminiscence to a time that many younger members of society, myself included, were not alive for. That being said, even if you didn’t witness the era directly, but are a fan of the music, you may still find it enjoyable.
Springsteen eloquently slows down the mood of the album with “Nightshift” before diving into contrasting love songs. He seems to cover both sides of the coin with the love songs on this album, alternating between the desire to be with someone you love and the anguish of lost love. It is particularly interesting to hear him still hold onto the style of lyrics that involve specific names of make believe characters. It’s something Springsteen always did, as did many other artists of the ’70s and ’80s, but it is cool to see it survive even in 2022 music production. It shows that he is still holding onto his roots.
I happen to be friends with some Springsteen superfans who share an undying love for “The Boss.” But in their perspective, his newer music is nowhere near as iconic as his older albums. I mean “Born in the U.S.A.” is an anthem of a generation and one of the top three most sold albums in music history; it’s pretty hard to compete with that.
However, there were some noticeably strong works of art on this album. The use of trumpets and violins in “The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore” made for a beautiful orchestral sound that complimented Springsteen’s strained vocals.
Love song “Turn Back the Hands of Time” had an ironic double meaning as this album would have done significantly better if it was released 30 to 40 years ago. “The Boss” kills it again though, showing that he still has incredible range and passion through his vocals in “When She Was My Girl”.
Overall, “Only the Strong Survive” was a very solid, cohesive Springsteen album. If you go in expecting him to try out new musical tactics you will be disappointed, but for the millions of fans who love Springsteen for who he is, I’m sure you won’t be too upset. It likely won’t gain any significant attention in the public eye, but it was nice to see that an artist is still doing what he loves.