Bruce Springsteen returned in 2007 to release the album Magic. A vinyl copy was released on September 25 in order to qualify it for the Grammy Awards. It would be nominated but lose. The CD version was issued October 2nd.
Magic breaks no new ground but it is a release that I find enjoyable. Maybe I’ve gotten used to his dark lyrics and even his politics which I guess is fine. It just rolls along and I am willing to go along for the musical ride. Springsteen draws on some of his past work to create a wistful and in some ways a nostalgic work.
The main problem that I have with the album is its production. The sound is muddy and the guitar tracks are not strong enough. There really is no excuse for a major artist or music company to issue something this bad given the level of modern technology. It really comes down to poor production interfering with good music.
The songs are more diverse than many of Springsteen’s previous albums. “Radio Nowhere” is a great rock song and would have fit nicely on Born In The USA. “You’ll Be Comin’ Down” is basically a slick pop song with the highlight being the beautiful sax work of Clarence Clemons. “Livin' In The Future” has a rhythm & blues feel and is a total band effort. “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” even has a Beach Boys feel to it and could have been a top forty hit.
The back to back songs, “Magic” and “Last To Die” find Springsteen in political mode. The first is a criticism of a nation that has been fooled by the establishment, and the second is a scathing anti-war song. I have not tired of such songs as “I’ll Work For Your Love,” "Long Walk Home” and “Devil’s Arcade.” The music and the lyrics have depth and texture and can be explored over a period of time.
Magic proved that at age 58 Bruce Springsteen would not be going quietly into the night. He produced an enjoyable and relaxed album but still showed some lyrical fire. We can only wait to see what 2009’s Working On A Dream will bring?