Review of "Devils & Dust" Sneak Preview

Greasy Lake, 2005-04-16, by: Maureen Shames
?All I'm Thinkin? About? Is:

Bruce Springsteen

?Devils & Dust? and

The Preview of A Lifetime
More than 500 diehard Bruce fans packed the Stone Pony in Asbury Park for an advance listening preview of Springsteen's Devils & Dust at 7 p.m. on April 5. An enthusiastic crowd screamed the usual calls for "Bruce," and clapped after every song.

This was THE place to be.

The excitement levels were high throughout the legendary Stone Pony, located conveniently just a stone?s throw away from Springsteen's home in Rumson. We all shared a wish that Springsteen could turn an ever rampant rumor into reality and magically appear for us.

Our spirits didn't dampen when he didn't show, perhaps because we had the privilege and honor of hearing his latest work several weeks before it hits stores.

Fans traveled from all over New Jersey and from great distances such as Canada and England to hear ?Devils & Dust.? We each had to win a golden ticket from the radio, the Internet or from four music stores including Jack's in Red Bank.

We felt like Charlie in ?Willy Wonka &The Chocolate Factory? with these golden tickets, and mine came from the Sony BMG Entertainment van that blasted the new Springsteen music right outside Jack's. Thank you so, Sony BMG for such a wonderful opportunity and the awesome giveaway, a CD single of the title track.

These invites had a picture of Springsteen from the new cover and asked us to join in hearing selections from ?Devils & Dust.?

This ear candy, ?Devils & Dust? is a technically futuristic masterpiece put out on a Dual Disc- meaning half of it is simply a CD, while the rest is a DVD movie. It is our history, present and future wrapped into one artistic package.

Among the songs we heard were the title track, "Devils & Dust," "All I'm Thinkin? About," "The Hitter," "All The Way Home," "Jesus Was An Only Son," and "Maria's Bed." We saw two DVDs, including: the title track and "All I?m Thinkin? About."

"I get every song on ?Devils & Dust," said Richard Sender, a Springsteen fan from Canada. "Bruce is tremendous. In Europe, the crowd would go insane. They would tear the place apart."

Together we listened intently and watched the lyrics that appeared ahead of us on a large cloth screen. Some may have mistaken the quiet during the songs for a lack of enthusiasm, however, in my view this was not the case. People were concentrating on this new music, and it was unlike anything we had ever heard from Springsteen, or anyone else.

?Devils & Dust? is powerful, and it blew me away.

The lyrics and music grabs the listener with a warm personal touch, and that is intended. Springsteen paired down the band and wrote bare-bone lyrics to convey deep feelings and thoughts. He plays acoustic guitar, some harmonica and his vocals are quite artful.

Each song is one of a kind, and the influences are diversified from Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie to Smokey Robinson. This music may be comprised of many forms such as rock, folk, gospel and Motown.

The title track is the first song and has received airplay on the radio. Springsteen actually places himself in the mindset of a soldier, and views what is at stake when there is war and killing. It is his political beliefs crashing into current realities and through his craft he shows us the dead on view.

"What if what you do to survive, kills the things you love," Springsteen sings in ?Devils & Dust.? "Fear's a powerful thing. It'll turn your heart black, you can trust it'll take your God filled soul fill it with devils and dust."

Springsteen's harmonica playing on ?Devils & Dust? seems like a nod to Guthrie and Dylan. It touches a nerve.

?Devils & Dust? has a sound that slowly strengthens and the bass grows increasingly thunderous from start to finish. This adds a dramatic flare much like the terror of watching a horror movie scene during impending doom. In the aftermath of the Vote For Change Tour, Bruce is continuing to show a presence politically in this portion of his new work.

"The Hitter" has the sound of a lighthearted folk ditty, but the irony is it is about an abuser. The effect is that the music is like a shield protecting the good reputation of the hitter. Everything sounds and appears fine to the outside world, while what is conveyed privately unveils the hidden truth.

"Jesus Was an Only Son" can be interpreted as being about the love between a parent and child. This is going to be a stand-out song, but it must be heard and absorbed more carefully.

"All I?m Thinkin? About," is a catchy poetic song that I've been humming non-stop. It has great rhythm and an interesting muffled high pitched vocal. In short, this is likely to be a huge hit. Springsteen is loving, verbally demonstrative, and obviously he's speaking about his wife, the lovely Ms. Patti Scialfa.

In the DVD version of "All I'm Thinkin? About," Springsteen is pictured taking us upstairs in his Jersey farmhouse where he strums his guitar and sings. We are permitted into the Springsteen bedroom, and even more intimately, right into Springsteen's mind.

There can be no better place.

So, if ALL you?re thinking about is Bruce, there is no better way to know his thoughts and prepare for the upcoming tour than to purchase a copy of ?Devils & Dust? when it comes out April 26.