Been listening to the new Springsteen CD over the weekend. Quite simply, it's his best album since "Born in the USA" and the first one I'd include on my best of the year list since 1987's "Tunnel Of Love." THIS is the acoustic album I've longed for ever since seeing Springsteen reimagine his hit song "Fire" with accordion and other funky instruments. I don't mind solo guitar or grimmer than grim lyrics -- heck, my favorite Springsteen album of all is "Nebraska." But "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "Devils & Dust" have been dour affairs that run screaming from anything like a melody. His rambunctious new CD is a rousing, celebratory affair that makes a beautiful noise. The stage sounds crowded with musicians and the sense of community is palpable as they jam on folk tunes like "John Henry" and "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep." Dixieland, blues, and a Saturday night hoedown all wrapped up into one, with Springsteen singing looser and gruffer -- and with more joy -- than in years. Since it was a tribute to Pete Seeger, I feared a holier-than-thou, peace-in feeling. Far from it. I would have liked to see his solo tour (just try getting tickets). But I'll die if I don't get in to this tour. It's gonna be a blast.
Other CDs out today I'm looking forward to: the duets album by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris and the new album by British rapper The Streets.