bruce-springsteen-only-the-strong-survive-album-review-2022

Bruce Springsteen - “Only the Strong Survive” Album Review

Story posted November 18, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio.

The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, has released his 21st studio album, “Only the Strong Survive.”

Very few musicians are as accomplished and beloved as the 73-year-old rocker. At this point in Springsteen's career, he has very little to prove as an artist.

“Only the Strong Survive” is a cover album of Springsteen's favorite R&B/soul songs and has been described as his love letter to the classic songs of the 60s and 70s that were essential to his upbringing.

The New Jersey icon has noted his love and the importance of R&B/soul as he’s said anyone playing music in central Jersey bars in the 60s and 70s would be playing soul music.

Springsteen is one of those artists with a distinct voice and a specific sound in most of his songs and covers.

His ability to crossover mainstream rock into blues, heartland rock, jersey shore sound and folk music is impressive, and why anything Springsteen touches has a sonic familiarity to the rest of his discography.

It is known that Springsteen's true forte is his lyricism and storytelling. It’s why so many fell in love with the rock star, and his music still relates to many today.

So a cover album doesn’t necessarily seem like the best move for an artist most beloved for their lyrics. But at this point in Springsteen’s career, he can do whatever he wants, and he has the artistry to make anything a captivating listen.

“Only the Strong Survive” isn’t anywhere near the top of Springsteen’s discography.

Still, the album offers a fun insight into what music Springsteen holds dear and an excellent introduction to a new genre of music younger fans may need to be made aware of.

Springsteen doesn’t have most of his iconic E-Street band on the album, but the sound the band is associated with is utilized on these cover songs.

The use of horns, organs and backing vocals are all classic features on a Springsteen track, and they essentially translate nicely on these soul songs.

The arrangements and compositions of Springsteen's songs and covers are always impressive.

From the album's opening and title track, “Only the Strong Survive,” originally sung by Jerry Butler, it’s abundantly clear that Springsteen's aesthetic and sound would pair incredibly well with this genre.

Springsteen’s voice is an iconic one but the rocker is not a vocalist at all. His raspy, bluesy tone fits well into most of these tracks by it's a little rough on “When She Was My Girl.”

The personality and charisma that Springsteen is known for shines through every song on this album. It’s clear that even though Springsteen isn’t writing these songs, he has great respect and adoration for each one.

The last two tracks on the album “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and “Someday We’ll Be Together” are the best covers.

It’s that typical working-man triumph ambiance that Springsteen always creates in his arrangements and it works the best on the final two songs.

Other highlights include “I Forgot To Be Your Lover,” “Nightshift” and “Hey, Western Union Man.”

For fans of Springsteen and his sound “Only the Strong Survive” is more of great covers from the iconic artist.

Fans of R&B and soul music may not appreciate Springsteen's reimagination or rock versions of some classic tracks, but anyone with respect for the artist will at least be interested in what songs Springsteen picked for the project.

At this point in his career, Springsteen is just doing what he wants and fans should be grateful that whatever the legend wants to do, is generally exceptional.

Rating: 7/10

Reviwer’s Favorite Tracks: “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and “Someday We’ll Be Together”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “When She Was My Girl”

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.