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NEW ALBUM: Western Stars - June 14


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Well I am personally genuinely in two minds.
Yes, it's different. Yes, it's lush (in parts). Yes, the characters are as described, and believable. Yes, its production - its SOUND - is startlingly so much better, more open than High Hopes and Magic for example (IT DOES SOUND sensational) and, for Bruce, unique.

But IS it any good?

I get irritated by many of the vocals (Chasing Wild Orses - not Horses  - for example - which yes, does echo You're Own Worst Enemy in the opening line) and the repetition of lyrics. The horrid drawl of Somewhere North of Na-a-a-a-shville...this SHOULD be a beautiful song, it contains some lovely lyrics, but Na-a-a-a-a-shville??? Not so sure, obviously a throwback of sorts to Devils and Dust. And the repetition of lyrics means, well, there's just not enough unique words/lyrics.

SOME songs ARE stunning; Stones is majestic, Moonlight Motel, the same. I love Tucson Train, and Western Stars is, the track, beautiful.

Most of the songs that grabbed me are in the latter half of the record, yet, conversely I find the first half of the album holds together better.

It's an odd one. I am not convinced it's a great record as a whole. Yet paradoxically I seem to like individual tracks a lot, or is it PARTS of individual tracks?

Someone asked the question many pages back thru this thread  I think - and I am paraphrasing - that IF this album was released by anyone other than Bruce, WOULD we either have sought it out or bought it? THAT'S my conundrum. I am not sure...

...yet I like/love some of it...A LOT...but IS it any good? God, I'm genuinely torn. 

 

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WORTHLESS ASSESSMENT OF THE SONGS BEFORE I'VE EVEN HEARD ANY OF THEM BESIDES "HELLO SUNSHINE" BASED SOLELY ON TITLE, TRACK LISTING, AND TRACK LENGTH

 

1. HITCH HIKIN' (3:37): A lot of the titles here lean way harder into blue-collar, ultra-country-inspired, stereotypical Bruce than I personally care for, and while I totally CAN be won over once I actually hear them (Nebraska sure managed to do it!), it'll still take some time. Anyways, this title is definitely that to a T, and I feel like it'll be a thematically appropriate, serviceable opening track, but like the real depth will start on track 2. I could be wrong -- in fact, I kinda expect I might be, like maybe it'll be some neat thematic connection between three characters who are all hitchhiking?, in which case I'm ready to go tell all "Hitch Hikin'" fans that "Breakaway" did it first and better -- but the title, in itself, doesn't give me reason to expect that. We'll see!
Expected rating: 6.4/10

 

2. THE WAYFARER (4:18): Okay now this one I'm actually super hyped on, for some reason. The whole narrative, orchestral, etc. promotion of this album makes me think it's one that starts with a kinda subdued opener but then sucks you in on a deeper emotional level on the second track -- which, come to think of it, Devils and Nebraska both did! -- and I feel like this could be a great character study of... of... whoever the Wayfarer is. Track length looks long enough to have a good story, not too long to drag itself out -- this is gonna be a good, emotional deep cut that I'm immediately gonna like more than other fans on message boards. Calling it.
Expected rating: 8.85/10

 

3. TUCSON TRAIN (3:31) - Honestly, this title just gives me nothing to go off of, and I feel like track 3 -- after an opening track that sets the stage, a second track that really starts doing the album's work, but then before the title track that's gonna be a big centerpiece -- is like exactly where you'd put a forgettable song. On the other hand, apparently this song's already been released, which probably means it's not a super uninteresting one... but still -- Tuscon Train, you've got work to do if you want to win ME over!
Expected rating: 5/10. If it weren't already released I'd go a little lower, with the release it should be a little higher, so I'm averaging out to this.

 

4. WESTERN STARS (4:41) - Some pretty imagery right there in the title on an album that promises great, beautiful orchestral arrangements, and it's likely going to be a thematic cornerstone of an album that's promising to be very lyric-driven, so this should be a fast, easy favorite.
Expected rating: 8.8/10

 

5. SLEEPY JOE'S CAFÉ (3:14) - The name "Sleepy Joe" feels kind of forced, and also sleepiness is contagious, so I WANT to hate this title -- except in practice, I'm so sure this is gonna end up being "Whitetown"-esque and be a song that has to grow on most people over time but that's already gonna be starting off on the right foot with me since I've already gone through the period of doubting/sleeping on it. ...fuck, no pun intended. Anyways, don't let me down, "Sleepy Joe's Café"; I expect you to become my sleeper favorFUCK I DID IT AGAIN. I swear these aren't intentional. What the hell. Anyways, this song totally gives me vibes of, like -- the aesthetic of the Bob's Grill verse in "Girls in Their Summer Clothes", plus the character focus of the bar from "Whitetown" -- and I'm here for it.
Expected rating: 9/10

 

6. DRIVE FAST (THE STUNTMAN) [4:16] - This absolutely fucking looks like the title -- and, frankly, subject matter -- of some obscure 1972 acoustic bootleg you only ever find when you're spending way, way too much time listening to Springsteen, wish were a better song, yet also know would have been awesome had he done more with it. This totally sounds like a Greetings-era song. I'm probably only saying that because it makes me think of Jimmy the Saint, but either way, classic Bruce vibes ahoy! This immediately promises to be a dramatic song wherein the titular Stuntman probably dies, and I'm already sold. It will be a big favorite. I'm... I'm basically just picturing "Lost in the Flood", I guess.
Expected rating: 9.2/10

 

7. CHASIN' WILD HORSES (5:03) - I originally thought this song might be, like, the more Fun! one on the album, like a lighthearted, energetic little "Open All Night"-type exciting-song-in-a-sea-of-sad-ones, which would sound kind of like "My Lucky Day", since it made me think of, I don't know, his daughter or something... but now I see the running time, and it's TOTALLY not going to be that... so... not sure what to expect? Long running time on a narrative album for sure has the possibility to be a pass for me -- looking at you, Highway Patrolman! But, it could be great, too. I see the room for a great story here. But I'm not sold just yet, sadly.
Expected rating: 5.2/10

 

8. SUNDOWN (3:17) - It's obviously impossible to look at this title and not think of "Hurry Up Sundown", even though they'll likely be totally different songs, and I really like "Hurry Up Sundown", so... this should be a great song! I bet I'll like it more than most people. It strikes me as more of a CrushOnOutlawPete Favorite than a most people favorite.
Expected rating: 8.4/10

 

9. SOMEWHERE NORTH OF NASHVILLE (1:52) - A nice title that I WANT to love -- but then the 1:52 running time (the shortest thing he's ever put on an album, right? "My Best..." was 2:00 iirc) makes me think this'll be one of those "Tomorrow Never Knows" type songs that you think is better than its non-existent reputation, that nobody ever remembers but that's actually pretty good, except it's realistically still not better than the *actual* meat of the album when you sit down to compare them.
Expected rating: 7/10

 

10. STONES (4:44) - For some reason, this immediately gives me total "Swallowed Up (In the Belly of the Whale)" vibes and makes me expect the absolute, unquestionable bleakest song on the album that I love way more than most people. It has an outside shot at being the clear worst and having some weird The New Timer-ish vocals or something... but man... I want to believe. I'm worried it'll be like a 6/10 or lower, but I'm really hoping for an 8.8/10 or even better??

 

11. THERE GOES MY MIRACLE (4:05) - An occasional pet peeve is when a song has an awesome, awesome lyric at the center of its chorus that's really compelling and resounding, but then goes and makes it the title, inherently depriving it of some power by making you just feel like they're singing the chorus. If I weren't typing so quickly right now, I'm sure I could think of examples. This is one such example. I'm probably going to wish the title were different, because now, I'm already used to what sounds like an awesome lyric, before I've even heard it. What a shame! But the song itself should probably be pretty introspective and good, and pair nicely with "Hello Sunshine".
Expected rating: 8/10

 

12. HELLO SUNSHINE (3:56) - Cannot rate this as I've already heard it

 

13. MOONLIGHT MOTEL (4:16) - Ending the album on imagery of moonlight -- oh you just know this is going to be some Valentine's Day-esque, subdued, emotional, totally beautiful and underrated deep cut conclusion. Right? This has the potential to be a legit 9.8/10, honestly. This could be a great one. I'm worried that the album will slightly underwhelm me and that this one will just be a kinda quiet, "meh" ending... but if instead it's a poignant(ly quiet), beautiful ending -- then we're in for great stuff.
Expected rating: Worried it'll be like a 5.2/10 but think it has a legit shot at 9.5/10

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Wait -- I thought the album came out tomorrow, but now I see people already discussing it? What is this witchcraft?

 

Is it on streaming sites first or something? Is that how the future works? Or did it leak, or what's the deal?

 

Damn! Does this mean I have to listen to it tonight? I didn't have that in my mental itinerary! I want to put it off tomorrow to obey Wikipedia's release date... but... "Moonlight Motel" is calling me...

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Waking up at 4h45, brewing a coffee, newspaper on the tabe and not much attention to it, headphones on (DW is still sleeping, ssst), listening to Bruce. Smiling on my face.

Now standing at the railway station, early sun getting some beams on me, smiling on my face...!

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On to my third listen, and this really is a stunning album. Bruce is in fine voice, and he has crafted something quite different, but yet still quintessentially compelling. The strings are very evocative and occasionally bring a lump to the throat. love love love Sundown!

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Listened to Western Stars once and trying to stop myself listening to anything else, as only have iPad as means of playing, which is not the best sound quality! 

So, I'm off for a walk on the beach, but how I wish I had bought my headphones on holiday with me...

 

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24 minutes ago, Ann Jones said:

Listened to Western Stars once and trying to stop myself listening to anything else, as only have iPad as means of playing, which is not the best sound quality! 

So, I'm off for a walk on the beach, but how I wish I had bought my headphones on holiday with me...

 

A walk along a beach listening to Bruce, what a way to start the day.

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2 hours ago, took me long enough said:

LOVE it!!

It's a great video and that song, that song. It's beautiful. It's Glory Days stripped away to the truth and I think Bruce is writing about himself as much as the fictional cowboy.

"Tonight the riders on sunset are smothered in the Santa Ana wind..."

When he gets to that line, that crescendo, man it just lifts me away.

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