It had been eleven years since his last studio release when Bob Seger returned in September of 2006 with Face The Promise. While not the overwhelming commercial success of some his classic albums, it nevertheless reached platinum status by selling over one million copies in The United States. Critically it was a vast improvement over the 1995 It’s A Mystery. It was also the first time since 1975 that The Silver Bullet Band was not credited.
Over a decade is a long time between albums and in his defense there were some health issues involved. He was wise enough not to re-invent himself musically. He stays close to the formula’s that worked so well in the past and while he may not have produced a spectacular album, at least it's solid and provides a good listening experience.
The center of the album is just some of the good old straight forward rock ‘n’ roll that he is so good at producing. “Wreck The Heart” is the lead track and sets the tone for much that will follow. It is energetic and the lyrics are fine. The title song rocks a little harder as it explores the American dream.
There are two duets that are excellent. “Real Mean Bottle” is a country tune written by Vince Gill. Here it is given a rock ‘n’ roll performance and his pairing with Kid Rock was genius. It has an old time boogie feel and is the strongest track on the album. “The Answer’s In The Question,” is a duet with Patty Loveless. It is a gentle song that works well but Seger’s voice strains here and there. It's a reminder that he was in his early sixties and his voice was not as supple as in his prime.
Not everything works well. “Simplicity” has a funky feel that moves Seger outside his comfort zone. “No More” is a political statement with strings. “Won’t Stop” is an excellent song but the simple and mostly acoustic performance puts the spotlight on his vocal which again is a little strained.
Any new Bob Seger release comes with high expectations. Face The Promise may not take his loyal fan base to the mountain top but it is a fine addition to his catalogue. It is also one of those albums that sound better with repeated listens. In the final analysis it proved that Bob Seger could still produce a good album and that was enough.