Bruce Springsteen - Devils & Dust
Release Date: April 26, 2005
Record Label: Columbia Records
When the 14-year-old version of myself found out Bruce Springsteen was releasing a new record, he was ecstatic. My dad told me this great news, and four years after The Rising, even the middle school me (who only wanted to listen to Green Day) was excited.
Then my dad told me it was going to be a folk record and it wasn’t going to be with the E Street Band, and I thought that was really lame. Although I heard plenty of the record throughout the next few months from my dad, I stubbornly refused to enjoy it at all. It took until my junior year of high school, roughly three years later, for me to give Devils & Dust a real chance, and ever since I have held the opinion that this record is one of Springsteen’s best lyrical outputs. It’s not the adrenaline-filled rocker the teenage me wanted, but it’s more than worthy as a folk album.
Devils & Dust continued a new sound for Springsteen while setting an important precedence for future releases. The Rising had a country or folk-ish twang to it in some parts, mainly in Springsteen’s vocals, and Devils & Dust most certainly does not quell that shift. In his two later releases, Magic and Working On A Dream, we see more of this twang in Springsteen’s voice, to the point that the sound has defined his later years for many.
Although the lyricism on Devils & Dust will forever leave me breathless, it doesn’t lack in the musicianship department at all. Produced by Brendan O’Brien, the acoustic guitars, harmonicas and distant drums are all layered together nicely, with Springsteen making extensive use of slide guitar playing, making for an unforgettable aura in songs like the airy “Maria’s Bed” and the dark “Reno.”
Much like Nebraska, Springsteen’s most celebrated solo record, Devils & Dust tells mainly stories of despair, with The Boss even surprising some critics with chunks of the content. “Reno” is a good example of that, as the song tells the story of a man’s encounter with a prostitute.
The opening title track and closer “Matamoros Banks” are highlights, featuring plenty of vivid imagery that is characteristic of the record as a whole. While there are endless lines to choose from, a portion of album standout “Long Time Comin’” has always popped out at me. Springsteen takes listeners away from a friendly acoustic guitar strum to a distant world, more like a novel than normal lyrics, when he sings, “Out where the creek turns shallows and sandy / And the moon comes skimming away the stars / Wind mesquite comes rushing over hilltops / Straight into my arms / I’m riding hard carrying a catch of roses / A fresh map that I made / Tonight I’m gonna get birth-naked and bury my old soul / And dance on its grave / It’s been a long time coming.”
Nebraska gets most of the praise as Springsteen’s greatest folk record, and rightly so. That album is a brooding, intimate and deep look into The Boss’ soul when he was in his prime. But too often, Devils & Dust is cast away as an unworthy effort. Devils & Dust not only deserve to be mentioned along with Nebraska, but it goes a long way in helping listeners forget the misstep the was The Ghost Of Tom Joad a decade before.
Good review. I also remember listening to this album when I was 14 years old and being a bit disappointed apart from the title track, which has always been a favorite Boss song for me. I think you underestimate Tom Joad, as there are a few really great songs on there, but I'd probably agree that this is the better record overall. Still sits at number 3 in his post millennial output though, for me.
solid record from start to finish. some great tunes "long time comin" "maria's bed" "jesus was an only son" "all im thinkin bout"
honestly one of the most well rounded albums he has done (my favorite since darkness on the edge of town.)
Genuine that is all I can say.I used to listened it every morning twice a day.Solid from the beginning of the song till the end.Must be recommended to.Before I end my post totally a good review,I'll tyr other song of him, bye
I was really glad to learn of the latest album from Bruce Springsteen, Devils and Dust. Now that I have listened to the entire album in my stereo headphones, I must say that Bruce Springsteen has given very much preference for sounds that were present in his old albums. The lyrics and musicianship are simply outstanding.