The trouble with an album that takes itself so seriously is that it threatens to crumble in the weight of its own grandiosity. Let’s face it, the Boss is no Bob Dylan, and his music is best listened to for fun, not as some social statement. The best moments on The Rising is when the Boss is just letting things easy and letting his music do the talking.
When he’s being hot and heavy, well, who can resist gems like “May your strength give us strength! May your faith give us faith! May your hope give us hope! May your love give us love!”, on repeat, in Into the Fire (a tribute to firemen that died in the line of duty in Sept 11, 2001)? It is noble to create an album devoted to honoring the lives lost and the acts of valor on that day, but I’m ashamed to say that the lyrics make me cringe. I will probably burn in hell for saying this, but the most obvious tribute song, Empty Sky puts me to sleep. That song has no hook, nothing.
I really feel low saying all this, because of the weight of the sentiments behind this album. But musically, this album is strangely sedate, even if this is the first collaboration of the Boss with E-Street in a long while. By far the tracks that resonate most strongly with me are the cathartic title track, Lonesome Day (reminiscent of the energetic old school rock), and Nothing Man. Other tracks seem lifeless and limp, relying on the listener’s vicarious grief to bolster the musical deficiency of the tracks.
Too many mediocre tracks are present in The Rising, but I doubt the public will care. Most likely we will overlook the musical mediocrity because the theme of the album, no matter how banal the lyrics can be, is one that resonates with us all. Maybe in a way Bruce Springsteen is capitalizing on the tragedy, and I must admit this makes me feel a little uneasy. I hope the money I paid for the album will go to some worthy charity.
Oh, and one more thing. This CD doesn’t play on a computer. Bastards.