About a month ago, Bruce Springsteen announced his first full-fledged album in seven years. (It’s been five if you count 2014’s High Hopes.) Either way, it’s the first release since his triumphant River tour with the E Street Band, his memoir, and his long stint on Broadway — all undertakings that had the feeling of putting a bow on his work, a hint of finality. Who knew when we’d be getting a new Springsteen album; and now that we are, it’s easy to imagine it as a new sound to introduce a new chapter, even if the songs date back to the beginning of the decade.
So far, we’ve heard two tracks that can give us some sense of what Springsteen might sound like when, as he’s described it, he’s chasing the sounds of ’60s singer-songwriter pop from Southern California. The first preview was “Hello Sunshine,” a dusty rumination that ranked amongst our favorite songs of that week. Next was the crooning, swelling “There Goes My Miracle.” And now, after several days of teasing via Twitter, the Boss is back with another new one called “Tucson Train.”
Like its predecessors, “Tucson Train” exists in that Western strain of Springsteen’s writing, story songs with aesthetics that suggest landscapes far-removed from the Tri-State area most associated with him. A lush arrangement of horns and strings augment the song’s chorus, flickers of country guitar come and go. That main string/horn figure sounds like some classic mid-century American melody — fittingly enough, considering the whole thing has a kind of old-time romanticism, the narrator awaiting the return of his lover by train. Out of any of these new songs, it’s also pretty easy to imagine “Tucson Train” folded into an E Street Band set. In the meantime, the song is accompanied by a performance video with Bruce backed up by a different band (including his wife Patti Scialfa). Check it out below.
Speaking of the prospect of an E Street Band show! Rather than mount a solo tour behind Western Stars, it appears Springsteen is getting back to E Street sooner than past comments might’ve suggested. Earlier this month, he revealed he’d been writing music with E Street in mind for the first time in years. And now Springsteen has told the Italian newspaper Repubblica that there are plans to record with the E Street Band this fall, and tour next year.
For a while there, it really looked like a full-blown E Street run wouldn’t happen again after the expansive River tour. Even with Springsteen’s superhuman endurance, the band’s collectively getting a bit old for marathon four hour shows. A new Springsteen solo album after all these years was good news as is. But now it appears even better, that there’s also the chance of new E Street music in the near future, and another chance to see Springsteen front one of the best American rock bands out there.
Western Stars is out 6/14 on Columbia.