Tuesday, December 21, 2010
#18 Album Of 2010: The Promise - Bruce Springsteen
SCQ Rating: 86%
In two heartbreaking narratives that bookend this sprawling, two-disc treasure trove, the object of Springsteen’s affection – the “she” - turns out to be his ’76 Challenger. I know that notion may sound plain ridiculous and downright antiquated spelt out as such, but those listeners who’ve invested some time in The Promise know what a terrific spoiler I’ve dropped. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Springsteen’s songwriting knows that he buried the substance of his writing behind rough, blue-collar colloquialisms he grew up with, but that Challenger – yes, the one he rests against in the cover-art – is a doozy, a symbolic marker that hints at The Promise’s surprisingly tight narrative.
Planning the follow-up to his groundbreaking Born To Run but legally prevented from releasing any of it, Springsteen’s The Promise benefits from its unsure direction, taking on Phil Spector-ish slow-burners (‘Someday (We’ll Be Together)’ and peppy rockers (‘Ain’t Good Enough For You’), all the while maintaining a uniform theme of the approaching night - whether going out or staying in. Maybe that’s the darkness on the edge of town; that calm before the phone starts ringing and the rendezvous get penned down. Maybe this is where Springsteen surrendered the last of his glory days.