Usually [Bruce Springsteen] calibrates his music to his lyrics. On "The Rising," the lyrics and the music often seem to ignore each other. For some reason, Springsteen sings with a mild Southern accent, which seems an odd choice for songs about a New York and Washington disaster. And the production is sometimes as fussy and bright as the words are dire. The sound, produced and mixed by Brendan O'Brien, who has worked with Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine, has the wet finish of a pop-country album.
Worse, the lyrics often fall short of the standards that Springsteen established long ago. "Hot damn, what a passel o' verbiage," the critic Lester Bangs wrote admiringly in Rolling Stone about 1973's "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." the Boss's debut album. It's unlikely anyone will exult like that about "Rising" songs such as "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," whose chorus is: "Waitin' on a sunny day / Gonna chase the clouds away / Waitin' on a sunny day." The seduction of "The Fuse" culminates with this clunker of a come- on: "The fuse is burning / Shut out the lights / The fuse is burning / Come on, let me do you right."
how do you find the core of humanity in the criminals of Sept. 11? The novelist in Springsteen must have been sorely tempted by these characters; he is drawn, after all, to the hopeless. On some level, though, the killings of September are too unambiguous a catastrophe for Springsteen. He's not a Good and Evil kind of guy.
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