Bruce Springsteen Returns With Wild New LP

Sonically experimental 17th studio album tackles political, spiritual themes

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Bruce Springsteen
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Bruce Springsteen was poised to announce his 17th studio album and a U.S. tour with the E Street Band at press time. Springsteen's manager Jon Landau tells Rolling Stone that the record is an ambitious "big-picture piece of work. It's a rock record that combines elements of both Bruce's classic sound and his Seeger Sessions experience, with new textures and styles." Music was played for Sony recently, according to The Hollywood Reporter, whose source described the songs as having "unexpected textures – loops, electronic percussion . . . influences and rhythms from hip-hop to Irish folk rhythms."

The disc was produced by Ron Aniello, who has previously worked on albums by Candlebox, Jars of Clay and the last LP by Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa. Members of the E Street Band play on the album, along with a variety of outside musicians, including Tom Morello and possibly former Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain, who has often recorded on Aniello's projects. "It was an experimental effort with a new producer," says Landau. "Bruce and Ron used a wide variety of players to create something that both rocks and is very fresh."

According to Landau, the record has "social overtones" – although it was largely written before Occupy Wall Street began and doesn't directly address the movement. The LP also has a "very pronounced spiritual dimension," adds Landau. "It extends and deepens the vision that has animated all of Bruce's work." According to The Hollywood Reporter's source, "[Bruce] gets into economic justice quite a bit. He feels it's the angriest album he's ever made."

The E Street Band will spend most of 2012 on the road, including spring and fall U.S. runs and a summer European tour. Dates haven't been announced, but concert-business sources tell Rolling Stone the band has arenas booked starting in March, including an Austin show around Springsteen's March 15th keynote address at the South by Southwest festival. One big question is how the group will address last summer's death of saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Springsteen's onstage foil for four decades.

This story is from the February 2, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 1149: February 2, 2012
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