This is by far the most passionate and penetrating review of the new Springsteen. I read all the advance YAHOO!s, understood the concept as interesting enough, got the record and the first time through decided it had well-worked-out sounds. Then I started to hear the tracks as songs and stories and liked it less every time I played it and have no intention of putting it on ever again. I like ’60s country less than Joyce, and while it would be a bit much to expect a Springsteen version of Hank Williams Sr. or Jimmie Rodgers, if he can do a Pete Seeger/Woody Guthrie how about at least a Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson?
Joyce rightly highlights the biggest problem with the album — you can’t feel any of the characters as people or fictions. An upsetting and misguided direction change as bad as deciding the early E Streeters should turn into a big, psychoodoolic freak-out show.