Bruce Springsteen, Letter To You (2020)
1. One Minute You're Here
2. Letter To You
3. Burnin' Train
4. Janey Needs A Shooter
5. Last Man Standing
6. The Power Of Prayer
7. House Of A Thousand Guitars
9. If I Was The Priest
11. Song For Orphans
12. I'll See You In My Dreams
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Roy Bittan – piano, vocals
Jake Clemons – saxophone
Charles Giordano – organ, vocals
Nils Lofgren – guitar, vocals
Patti Scialfa – vocals
Bruce Springsteen – guitar, vocals, harmonica, production
Garry Tallent – bass guitar, vocals
Steven Van Zandt – guitar, vocals
Max Weinberg – drums, vocals
Ron Aniello – production
Bob Clearmountain – mixing
Danny Clinch – photography
Bob Ludwig – mastering
Letter to You is the twentieth studio album from Bruce Springsteen; it marks his first new studio album with the E Street Band since 2014's High Hopes. The band got together at Springsteen’s home studio in November 2019 and recorded Letter To You in only four days.
The record is made up of nine songs recently written by Springsteen and three new versions of previously unreleased tracks from the 1970s: Janey Needs a Shooter, If I Was the Priest and Song for Orphans. Letter To You was produced by Ron Aniello with Springsteen, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig.
Unlike past albums , where Springsteen has told numerous stories of nostalgia, downtown trains, rivers, love, and loss through the eyes of others and/or fictional characters. This is a far more personal album. Letter To You is a reflection on mortality; a taking stock, a looking back ,and he how feels at this point in time after the loss of his friend and teenage bandmate George Theiss, E Street Band players Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici as well as his long-time assistant Terry Magovern.
Thankfully, Letter To You never comes off as an entirely somber affair, the album continues Springsteen’s trademark of looking for that silver lining in a life of tragedy. With his latest release, Springsteen finds solace in the fact that he still has a burning need to communicate through his words and music. Now more than ever he needs to say what’s on his mind and gather those who can help him pull it off while the gathering’s good. Without a doubt, the gathering is really good, no one is more capable of helping Springsteen convey that urgency to communicate than the E Street Band. Their presence has been sorely missed and they give the material that much needed vigor.
As refreshing as it was to hear Springsteen's personal view on loss, sentimentality and mortality on his latest offering, it’s that live performance feeling that gives these 12 tracks a real urgency. There hasn’t been a record since Born in the U.S.A. on which he’s fully embraced the E Street Band’s signature sound. Letter To You brings back the layers of guitars, thundering drums, roaming piano, sax breaks, singalong moments and Springsteen’s weather-beaten vocals that have given millions of people contentment in times of hopelessness.
In my opinion this really a great record. The album is definitely worth listening all the way through, but if I had to pick highlights, they would be the following. The reflective album opener; One Minute You’re Here, the rousing lead single; Letter To You, the rockers; Ghosts, Burnin' Train, the poignant; Last Man Standing, and the heartfelt; I’ll See You in My Dreams.
The combination of Springsteen's reflective lyrics and his backing band by his side firing on all cylinders, makes for a very sublime listening experience. Letter To You sound fresh, new and classic all at the same time. Highly recommended.