Bruce Springsteen - Magic (Cover Artwork)

Bruce Springsteen

Magic (2007)


Magic should have been happening twenty years ago. For the last two solo and much-maligned pop and folk decades of Bruce Springsteen's career -- save for 2002's solid yet unfocused The Rising -- he should have been having fun and rocking out with the E Street Band, just as he does on his new record, out on Columbia Records. Magic shows the lighter side of a man refusing to slow down, and while it may not be as deep as classics like Born to Run, it will, without a doubt, please long-time fans of Springsteen.

As cliché as it might sound, Bruce and the E Street Band are back in full force, as the opening track and first single "Radio Nowhere" suggests, boasting a gigantic main riff, group vocals, and a saxophone solo from big man Clarence Clemons. Magic is a true crowd-pleaser, highlighted by the triumphant return of Roy Bittan's piano work, which laces and drives most of the tracks on the album -- most noticeably the fantastic "I'll Work for Your Love" and "You'll Be Comin' Down."

By far, the most staggering and delightful tune on Magic is "Livin' in the Future," which could be "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out Part Deux" with its upbeat rhythm and throwback Born to Run-esque production -- complete with "na na na"s to close things out. Songs like "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" and "Your Own Worst Enemy" are unlike anything Springsteen has done before, and they succeed through their simplicity and light-hearted nature. However, one track in particular illustrates Bruce's lyrical and emotional prowess -- "Long Walk Home" is simply tremendous, and is his best song in decades.

In terms of sound, Magic is very closely related to 1980's The River and 1984's breakthrough Born in the U.S.A.. After all these years, it finally seems as if Springsteen has realized that he doesn't have to be heavy-handed to write solid music. Magic is truly a full-band effort, and is proof that our local hero still has some tricks up his sleeves.

[Originally written for The Daily Targum]