Bruce Springsteen became “the Boss” due mainly to his stadium rockers—passionate, loud, at times angry, at times sensitive, always with a call to freedom. But he was always also a terrific songwriter, one of the best creators of story songs there has ever been in American popular music. His record “Nebraska” (stay tuned to the Wavelength countdown!) showed how Bruce could turn acoustic to excellent effect and highlight the content of his songs. Thirteen years after “Nebraska,” Springsteen returned with this record, another mainly acoustic collection of powerful story songs. This time, in cuts such as “Youngstown,” “Balboa Park,” “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” and “Across the Border,” the record has a clearer political focus, even if the overall record doesn’t quite match the beauty and emotional depth of “Nebraska.” “The Ghost of Tom Joad” almost is a match for “Nebraska,” and that sure ain’t bad.
Columbia Records, 1995. [All-Music Guide review]