Upon first hearing that Bruce Springsteen’s latest studio album, his 21st, Only The Strong Survive, was going to be an album of soul covers, I became excited and thought what a fantastic idea.
Soul music, as a genre, in many ways has always been the most fitted to the language of love, passion, and heartbreak and by definition, its songs are always about dealing with the truth and your emotions head-on.
Throughout his career, Springsteen’s affection for the music of the genre has always been apparent and his musical and vocal styles have always been largely based on its distinctive qualities. Given all of this, I just knew that Bruce would deliver to all of us another great record.
Turns out I was right. Only The Strong Survive is a project born out of a prodigious love and it shows. It is an altogether exceptional addition to his catalog that displays a wonderful synthesis between the soul genre that has influenced him so heavily and his original work.
As per his career-long habit when it comes to performing covers of other artists’ songs, Springsteen smartly doesn’t try to flatly imitate the originals. He puts his time into creating versions that both honor the songs and are fresh incarnations of them.
While I am hesitant to choose the best tracks from this sparkling 15-song effort, some specific standouts do include the titular track, “Nightshift,” “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Don’t Play That Song,” and the two powerful and soaring closers – “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” and “Someday We’ll Be Together.”
Ultimately this album by an incomparable American song master is an unfettered celebration of the power of music and its unparalleled ability to allow us to transcend our circumstances in a cathartic manner. It reminds us that through the power of song we can express all of our emotions in a way that confirms our self-worth and connects us all with our fellow human beings.
Long live soul music and long live the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Only The Strong Survive by Bruce Springsteen, produced by Springsteen himself and Ron Aniello will be available on Colombia Records on November 11 on Bruce Springsteen’s website.
Enjoy some of our previous coverage here: When The Promise Is Broken: Springsteen & Us