Working on a Dream
Working on a Dream isn’t what you’d expect from Bruce Springsteen, said J. Freedom Du Lac in The Washington Post. On his 16th studio album, the Boss mostly abandons the rich, character-driven stories of 20th-century America that have defined his career. His “first album in which style clearly trumps substance,” Working on a Dream lacks the songwriter’s characterizing purpose and lyrical vision. This apolitical album fails to reach the depths of Springsteen’s best work, said Rashod Ollison in the Baltimore Sun. Gone, too, are the protest songs of 2006’s We Shall Overcome and the battle cries of 2007’s Magic. Most tracks are sonically ambitious but “forgettable,” with the notable exceptions of the stripped down “Last Carnival” and “The Wrestler.” Such “overcooked production” sands down Springsteen’s raw, “rough-edged” style of rock ’n’ roll and undercuts his songwriting strengths. It just seems wrong to hide the Boss under so many layers, said Ann Powers in the Los Angeles Times. After all, he “can wring meaning out of a dish towel.”
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