ONE MINUTE YOU'RE HERE**1/2
Quiet start, like a "Western Stars" outtake, solid. "Freight train" plowing through, one minute you're here, next you're gone. Sounds like March 11th.
LETTER TO YOU***1/2
I know this first single didn't overwhelm too many, but I still think it's great. Classic ESB.
Fast, driving, rolling freight train groove from Max. Big wall of sound, almost a Spector-ish guitar line. Again, this is so very ESB.
JANEY NEEDS A SHOOTER***
No resemblance to the Zevon track. Feels like a "Hearts Of Stone" groove, not as heartbreaking. Also not as good. Terrific opening organ, a nice nod to Danny. Man, the ESB can really sound like the ESB when they want to. Bruce losing it a la "Drive All Night" on the coda. Nice touch. Just went from 2 1/2 to 3 stars because of that!
LAST MAN STANDING**
Mid-tempo, repetitive in a "Bobby Jean" kind of way. Didn't kill me.
THE POWER OF PRAYER***
Same vibe as "I'll Work For Your Love." Sweet melody, melancholy. Love the whole sound, especially after the breakdown. Very nice.
HOUSE OF A THOUSAND GUITARS*1/2
Not the Willie Nile tune. Opening piano intro a bit like "Theme From Arthur." Not much happening here. Least favorite so far.
Love this. Melody and delivery calls to mind a number of songs from "The Rising." Big chorus. Just great.
IF I WAS THE PRIEST***1/2
I can hear The Band and Levon singing the hell out of this. Initially disappointed to find out Bruce was revisiting this, but it's damn good. Arrangement similar to full band "Atlantic City." Bruce vocals on whole record sounding really damn strong. And a guitar solo to take us out! Another favorite.
It killed me the first five times I heard it and I believe it will kill me the next hundred times. Stone cold Bruce/ESB classic.
SONG FOR ORPHANS**
Bruce channeling Dylan. Another oldie given a new life. Not terrible. The feel's a bit dirgey. Def a "Greetings..." vibe, only more produced.
I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS***
Nice way to close things out. Short and sweet, right out of "The River" playbook. The guitar and organ solos will take you right back to 1978. Nice "Jole Blon" quote on the guitar at the end. Great.
I'm sure those who haven't liked a Bruce record since "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" will find something wrong with "Letter To You," the way they found something wrong with all of the records that didn't sound like the E Street Band. Well, guess what? This sounds like the E Street Band.
For me, this record is exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. Yes, it was just one pass. I wasn't focusing on lyrics, references vague or blatant, or the overall autobiographical narrative. Things will change. They always do. But that's what makes a record great, its ability to keep you on your toes. Lyrics will hit me as I continue to live with this record, as will certain musical moments that I might have missed first time through. Right now, it was all about the sound, the melody and production, all of which made me very happy. I'd trim a little fat and get "Letter To You" down to 40 minutes. Then you'd have something that maybe even the cynics would have trouble criticizing.