Ignoring the obvious level of anticipation in the album’s title, the tracklisting for Springsteen’s eighteenth album High Hopes seems to collate a lot of lost material from the 64 year old’s back catalogue, with some of these tracks dating back to Springsteen’s 1995 reunion with the E-Street Band for the Blood Brothers EP. The most surprising of this material is ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’, which made its return into Springsteen’s setlist after George Zimmerman was declared not guilty for the death of Trayvon Martin.
Recently, Springsteen’s albums have been taken more of a politically charged approach. Introducing ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ on the Australian leg of his Wrecking Ball tour, Springsteen declared disgustedly “If Woody Guthrie were alive today, he’d have a lot to write about”. The input of Tom Morello on this record is clear, with the guitarist filling in guitar duties during Steve Van Zandt’s absence on eight of the 12 tracks. The album will also feature posthumous contributions from Clarence Clemons (saxophone) and Danny Federici (organ, keyboards).
Although High Hopes may feel like an odds and ends album, a lot of these songs are some of the most cohesive from Springsteen’s extensive career. If the bootleg recordings floating around the internet are an indication of the tone of this album, it’s going to be twice as venomous as 2012’s Wrecking Ball.