Being a huge Bruce fan creates the annoying problem of trying to be objective about his output.
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At its first run though, the album sounds like most tracks are outakes from other albums, which would not be surprising considering his prolific output over the years.
It opens with the jokey sounding Outlaw Pete, an eight-minute opus where producer Brendan O’Brien has gone to town by almost over-producing the number with huge strings weaving in and out of Bruce’s tall tale of an outlaw from the Wild West.
The comes Lucky Days, a rock ‘n roll driving piece reminiscent of No Surrender from Born in the USA – a catchy tune, but can become annoying after a few play throughs due to its repetitive nature.
Next up is the Roy Orbisonish sounding title track that has a nice rhythm to it, which is in turn followed by one of the true standouts on the album Queen of the Supermarket. Here Bruce proves once again he can take an ordinary slice of life and turn it into poetry – how a bashful man’s unrequented love/crush on the local check out girl is almost unattainable.
Show Me What Love Can Do is one of those aforementioned tracks that sounds like it came from another album – in this case The Rising. It’s guitar and bass-driven riffs surely belong to that early 2000s era, while This Life’s intro sounds like the beginning of a Burt Bacharach number only to turn into a lovely melodic tune that sticks in the head long after it has finished.
After this, the tracks are pretty run of the mill until you come to the penultimate song, The Last Carnival. This beautiful soliloquy about E Street sideman Danny Federici, who died of melanoma last year, is a top notch tune. These are Bruce lyrics at their best, using the metaphor of a circus (Wild Billy anyone?) to let the world know how much he misses a compadre who kept him company on stage for the best part of 40 years.
The final song is a ‘bonus’ track, the Golden Globe award-winning The Wrestler, from the film of the same name.
Overall not a bad effort. I guess if this was somebody’s freshman effort, it would get 4.5 out of 5, but being Bruce I expected a little more.