New Bob Seger albums don’t show up too often (this is his second since 1995). But he’s still the same heartland warrior with the same sturdy, elastic rock & roll vision. Ride Out goes from “Detroit Made,” a tribute to Motor City automotive ingenuity steeped in Rust Belt rock and soul, to the Chicago-blues overdrive of “Hey Gypsy,” to the freedom-loving “Ride Out,” where he growls his message for our times over a tight boogie with a Southern-soul feel: “Time to disconnect from clutter/Time to hit the road.”
Seger’s leanings are rootsier these days, which fits his august Midwestern growl. He recorded in Nashville with reliable session pros, and he covers songs by alt-country artists like Steve Earle (the gun-violence parable “The Devil’s Right Hand”) and Kasey Chambers (“Adam and Eve,” where he gets biblical over fiddles, banjos and mandolins), as well as a stately take on Woody Guthrie’s “California Stars,” which was first recorded by Wilco and Billy Bragg. At 69, Seger is just as ruggedly introspective as he was in his heavy-bearded Seventies, whether on somber cuts like “All of the Roads” and “You Take Me In” or the environmental plea “It’s Your World.” On “Gates of Eden,” he evokes Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic of the same name: “The night came on like thunder/Lightning split the purple skies/My whole day had been a journey sorting through the truth and lies,” he sings. Ain’t it funny how the night moves, and scary too.