background
Reviews

Bruce Springsteen “Only the Strong Survive” Album Review

Only the Strong Survive

Bruce Springsteen

  • Genre: Rock
  • Date: 11 Nov, 2022
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Region: USA
  • Track(s): 15
  • ℗ 2022 Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment

Bruce Springsteen has released his latest studio effort, “Only the Strong Survive,” a covers album created in the midst of early lockdown while working with producer Ron Aniello and engineer Rob Lebret at his home studio. He recreated a number of his favorite, largely unheard soul songs. It’s crucial to keep in mind that Springsteen has always had a different meaning for covers before you jump to conclusions about another iconic rocker going the Rod Stewart route.

He has a way of not only sharing his favorite songs with us, but also conveying the emotions that those songs evoke in him whether he is transforming a Jimmy Cliff reggae single into an arena-ready burst of tension and release or searching through centuries of American folk music to create his most playful and vibrant record of the twenty-first century.

Album Cover Art

Bruce Springsteen &Quot;Only The Strong Survive&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 1, 2023

Bruce, rocking an all-black outfit, sits on the hood of an antique, obviously expensive ride parked in a field or on someone’s private property. Bruce with this smirk on his face turns to his right-hand side to look at the cam. From that look and that OG pose, you can tell he is about to tell us from experience how and why Only The Strong Survive.

Tracks and Features

Springsteen adapts Jerry Butler’s original on the album’s lead track into a raspier, Americana style while retaining its soulful vibrato and lump-in-the-throat delivery. In their cover of Jonnie Barnett’s tale of falling in love with soul music, “Soul Days,” Springsteen enlists soul musician Sam Moore to give his voice and harmonies. The song seems to be a wonderful fit for this album, both in terms of its overarching topic and the lyrical it has about typical American living, such as romanticizing driving down country roads and donning a pair of worn-out blue jeans.

“Gonna miss your sweet voice / That soulful noise on the nightshift / We all remember you, your song is coming through,” Springsteen sings in his cover of the Commodores’ 1985 Motown smash “Nightshift,” which initially paid homage to soul music legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson. Nearly all of these lyrics provide an explanation for why Springsteen made the decision to create this collection in the first place.

On the sorrowful “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” Bruce Springsteen’s vocal prowess is undeniably evident, but the fundamental element that made Jimmy Ruffin’s desolate 1966 song so moving is still there. The album then concludes on a positive note with a cover of the upbeat song “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross and The Supremes, keeping with the spirit of the whole album and that classic Motown magic of making longing and heartbreak feel joyous.

Additionally, he delivers a heartfelt cover of The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain” in his throaty drawl, and in “Don’t Play That Song,” he draws on his own youth to improvise lyrics about dancing on “those summer nights down at the coast.” Although it was originally written by Ben E. King, this song has a distinctive Bruce Springsteen flavor. However, there are times when Springsteen falters and sounds hurried as the song takes control of him. This is the case on some of Tyrone Davis’ classic songs, like “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Turn Back the Hands of Time.”

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Only the Strong Survive 2:59
2 Soul Days (feat. Sam Moore) 3:58
3 Nightshift 4:56
4 Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) 2:27
5 The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore 3:44
6 Turn Back the Hands of Time 3:07
7 When She Was My Girl 3:17
8 Hey, Western Union Man 3:53
9 I Wish It Would Rain 3:24
10 Don’t Play That Song 3:34
11 Any Other Way 2:54
12 I Forgot To Be Your Lover (feat. Sam Moore) 2:28
13 7 Rooms Of Gloom 2:39
14 What Becomes of the Brokenhearted 3:31
15 Someday We’ll Be Together 3:33

Album Theme

Instead of merely cranking out superficial re-imaginings, Springsteen celebrates these timeless songs with “Only The Strong Survive,” paying 15 enormous and sincere tributes to some of the greatest songwriters and vocalists of all time. It not only sheds light on the sources of inspiration for one of the greatest living American songwriters, but it also works to protect the greats of the past and make sure that the best literature and music are preserved.

Production Credits

The album was produced by Bruce Springsteen & Ron Aniello.

Stream

Back to top button