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‘The Boss’ is back. Bruce Springsteen has released a four-song EP, “American Beauty,” just three months after his 18th studio album, “High Hopes.”
The songs on “American Beauty” were all in the running to make “High Hopes,” but did not make the cut. Springsteen wrote in a letter on his website that he “realized their potential” and worked on them until the EP was formed.
“American Beauty” leads off with the title track, which begins similarly to many other classic Springsteen songs: guitars riff while the drums hold a beat in the background, and then Springsteen rips into the lyrics. He shows off his vocal range on the song, as he reaches higher than he usually does. Springsteen sings about familiar topics, such as women and summer, in another piece of Americana. It is classic Springsteen from every aspect, and does a great job kicking off the EP.
“Mary Mary” follows “American Beauty,” and is the opposite in terms of sound. Where “American Beauty” has a wall of guitars, “Mary Mary” is a soft acoustic tune with a string section accompanying it. “Mary Mary” is about heartbreak and missing the love shared between two people. It is a beautiful song, which Springsteen wrote was the closest to being on “High Hopes.”
On “Hurry Up Sundown” sirens roar before Springsteen and the guitars jump in. The song has a similar theme to Springsteen classics “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road,” which are about hitting the road and getting away from the things that hold everyone down. It is a relatable song, as many people want to go out and experience a little freedom after a long work day.
“Hey Blue Eyes” rounds off the EP, and it is one of Springsteen’s more political songs to date. Springsteen has never been afraid to dive into controversial topics, such as the Vietnam War with “Born in the U.S.A.” or the recent economic crisis with his “Wrecking Ball” album. In his letter, Springsteen said he wrote “Hey Blue Eyes” during the time when George W. Bush was president and is “a metaphor for the house of horrors our government’s actions created in the years following the invasion of Iraq.” The songs starts with a soft acoustic melody before Springsteen sears into what he views as great atrocities. More instruments join in as the song progresses, but the message remains clear. Many have criticized Springsteen in the past for getting too political, specifically at some of his live performances, and he has toned it down recently. However, he is still comfortable in tackling issues when he sees fit.
“American Beauty” is more evidence that Springsteen is one of the most versatile musicians in history. Few can go from painting a picture of the America we all think about to scolding the same government in such a short setting. Springsteen is back to his classic self, bringing the E Street power again and again.