Bruce Springsteen has the ability to shoot straight through the airwaves and into your heart. Perhaps born with this brilliance or having honed his skills over the years, Springsteen has long found the perfect balance between being raw and being eloquent, and he reminds you of his magic in ‘Letter To You’.
This 12-track wonder, although all new songs, feel timeless and fits right into Springsteen’s vast and decorated existing discography. The album, containing audio poetry from the musical titan, is filled with stories about daily life, love, lust, sex, romance and reminiscing about times gone by.
In typical Springsteen style, it wouldn’t be a Bruce Springsteen album without the iconic sounds of keys and horns being played and mashed together, like on his track ‘Last Man Standing’. And I welcome these sounds wholeheartedly. In ‘Janey Needs a Shooter Now’, I was surprised when I heard a harmonica being played. Not that it is unusual for Springsteen to play the harmonica, it’s not. But because the sound of a harmonica is one you rarely hear in music these days – unless you know where to look.
I admit I was thoroughly amused with ‘House Of A Thousand Guitars’ not necessarily for its lyrics, but for the fact that it starts off with a piano and the guitars don’t kick in until after a minute and 20 seconds later, despite the song’s title.
‘Burnin’ Train’, ‘Rainmaker’ and ‘Ghosts’ would be incredible songs to hear performed live, especially the latter. ‘Ghosts’ contains lines that I dare say, Springsteen purposefully penned to sound damn good with a crowd singing along word for word. Regarding Springsteen’s excellent storytelling, it is particularly strong with the song ‘If I Was The Priest’, where the artist paints you the picture of a town that feels so familiar, you feel like you’ve known it all your life.
‘One Minute You’re Here’ is the perfect starter to Springsteen’s twentieth studio album, addressing topics of life being temporary, as well as loneliness and loss. The topic of life is also shamelessly mentioned during the album’s final track ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’, which shares Springsteen’s deepest thoughts of longing to be reunited with someone you love – who has passed on. While both songs study the idea of immortality and death, it is neither frightening nor upsetting. Instead, it addresses these sensitive topics openheartedly with joy, warmth and hope.
My favourite song off the album, however, is ‘Letter To You’, the title track of the album. The lyrics are simple, yet so heartfelt and exquisite with the lines, “I took all the sunshine and the rain, all the happiness and all my pain, the dark evening stars and the morning sky of blue. And I sent it in my letter to you.” This song and its title perfectly sum up the album nicely, like a time capsule capturing Bruce Springsteen’s knowledge of what he’s learnt in life so far, before he moves onto his next chapter.
Optimistic, attentive, grateful and philosophical, Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics have always contained multiple meanings in his songs, as he preaches life’s morals without ever sounding calculated, forced, or even dated. Every song on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Letter to You’ feels authentic yet at the same time expertly conjured and curated. It is clear that Bruce Springsteen knows something that we do not, and whatever he is doing – it’s working for him.