Matt on Music: Hard Working Americans/Bruce Springsteen

One of the first music articles I wrote compared the leftist politics on two albums, Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” and Todd Snider’s “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables.” Now, almost two years later, Springsteen and Snider have both released albums just weeks from each other. How convenient.

Hard Working Americans: “Hard Working Americans” (Melvin) Formed by Todd Snider upon realizing that he’d never really worked with younger musicians, this super-group’s first album seems like it should be Snider’s most youthful album. Instead, it’s his “Americana,” a collection of covers that seems to serve the sole purpose of proving he can rock. Although the main attraction of Snider’s music has always been the songwriting, as opposed to the singing and playing, he chose these songs carefully, and they all feel strangely like his own. Even the song that I’ve heard numerous times, Randy
Newman’s “Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man),” feels at home here, and the working class themes of all the songs make the album feel less like a cover album and more like a louder sequel to
“Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables.” Grade: A MINUS

Bruce Springsteen: “High Hopes” (Columbia) Worshipping an artist can be dangerous for a music magazine, and a very prevalent case of that is Rolling Stone’s relationship with Bruce Springsteen.

When they gave his 2012 album “Wrecking Ball” a perfect five-star rating, it had little impact. That’s
because they also gave his previous album, 2009’s “Working on a Dream,” the same rating. Same with the album before that one, 2007’s “Magic.” The difference was that “Wrecking Ball” was actually his finest album in two and a half decades, which may have been clearer if Rolling Stone had a six-star rating specifically reserved for Springsteen’s good albums. So, their four-and-a-half-star rating for this mediocre collection doesn’t mean that it’s just half a star away from “Wrecking Ball.” In fact, it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Come on, guys. Unconditional love is one thing, but even your favorite child’s B shouldn’t go on the fridge. Grade: B


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