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Letter To You - First Impressions On Our First Listen

posted Oct 15, 2020, 6:00 AM by Brandon Thompson
E Street is back. Bruce Springsteen is back. We have received an early copy of Letter to You and these are our first thoughts on our first listen. 

One Minute You're Here: The album opens with Springsteen strumming along to an acoustic guitar. His voice coming through crystal clear and with such raw emotion that it sounds like Springsteen is standing in your living room and performing right in front of you. Roy slowly begins to play in the background with an eventual filling of the air with strings. Almost brings me back to the voice of Bruce on his solo album, Devils and Dust. Great way to start the album.

Letter To You: We have all heard this one by now. Insert your feelings here.  

Letter To You (Single)

Burnin' Train: You ready to rock? This burnin' train is coming full throttle down the track. Charlie's Organ is screaming to start on this one. Max comes in with a steady kick drum behind the band and we're off, "Zero's my number, time is my hunter, I wanted you to heal me, but instead you set me on fire." I can see this one becoming a fan favorite for many on the album and will be a scorcher when the band eventually and hopefully hits the road as soon as they can. "With our shared faith, rising dark and decayed, take me and shake me from this mortal cage." 

Janey Needs A Shooter: Hardcore and diehard Springsteen fans will likely know this song. It is very much like the original demo from back in 1972 and now updated with updated vocals and a beyond polished band. Bruce sounds great. Hell, the band sounds even better. Springsteen adds in a harmonica solo in the middle of the song which adds a nice new dimension to the classic, old school rock version. Make no mistake, Bruce and the band ball out on this song. Springsteen belts and drags out "a man who knowwwws herrr styyyllle" as the song starts to come to a close. If you liked the demo version from the early 70s, you will love this. 

Last Man Standing: Song begins with a nice strumming of an acoustic guitar and the band starts to add on, typical E Street fashion here. Springsteen is clearly talking about his career and likely focusing on his early band The Castilles, "You kick the band in side-by-side, you take the crowd on their mystery ride." Bruce reminisces about playing old Legion halls while the crowd puts away their pool sticks as they watched the show. "Rock of ages lift me somehow, somewhere high and hard and loud, somewhere deep into the heart of the crowd, I'm the last man standing now." Bruce is indeed the last man standing from his old band that jump started his career. It's pretty evident that he is recalling these old days as they get out of school and work in their thrift store shirts and jeans and take the stage to set it ablaze. Song ends with an E Street Band jam session with Jake Clemons' saxophone ringing through Bruce's home studio. 

Power of Prayer: Roy leads the band for the intro of the song and then Max comes in hard with a double hit and we're off. A nice and catchy melody that will for sure be caught in the heads of many fans after their first listen. Jake has another sax solo on the end of this number. This song on first listen almost reminds me of a close relative of "Kingdom of Days."

House of a Thousand Guitars: Turn that piano up! Roy leads another song with Bruce shortly coming in a few seconds later, "The blood moon shines across the vale, bells ring out through churches and jails." Did you catch that? I feel like another Springsteen song mentions churches and jails. Anyway, I think Bruce is sharing how much music can connect all of us and how we With roy backing Bruce, "So wake and shake off your troubles my friend, we'll go where the music never ends, from the stadiums to the small town bars."  I have a feeling this one will be another one that gets easily stuck in your head after the first listen. The band fades out with just Roy playing the riff with Bruce singing "A thousand guitars" eight times to end the number. 

Rainmaker: Well, I was not expecting the start of this one. Starts very subtle with Bruce slowly preaching, "Parched crops dying 'neath a dead sun." But, man...oh man, wait for the chorus. Hits you a like a ton of bricks with the full band punching you through your speakers, "Rainmaker a little faith for hire!" I can very clearly picture Bruce's veins popping out of his neck singing this one while recording. This might be one of my favorites on first listen and I found myself wanting to keep replaying it. It seriously just grabs you and kicks serious ass. 

If I Was The Priest: Yes, this is a full band arrangement. Rejoice! Seriously...this is incredible and is clearly a highlight of the album. This is another easter egg song on the album for the diehards. Springsteen originally demoed this song back in the early 70's and rearranged the song for this album. Starts with Bruce taking a breath and then..."There's a light on yonder mountain" while guitars lightly strum with Max's high-hat keeping the tempo. Roy comes in about halfway through the first verse and then right at the end...bam. E Street bliss. For sure one of the standouts for me on the album, it really is that good. 

Ghosts: We have all heard this one by now. Insert your feelings here.   

Ghosts (Single)

Song For Orphans: Full band...again. Rejoice! Again! This song was featured in Springsteen's live archive series when he released one of his Trenton, NJ solo shows to wrap up the Devils and Dust tour in 2005. This song now gets the treatment it finally deserves. Springsteen opens up his harmonica ringing out with the band kicking ass in the background as E Street seemingly always does on this record. Again, diehards will be very happy with this recording. 

I'll See You In My Dreams: This was the perfect way to end this album. I don't think it is a secret that Springsteen is looking back on his life in this album and remembers those who crossed his path who are no longer with us. "I got your guitar, here by the bed...and although my soul feels like it's been split at the seams, I'll see you in my dreams." Springsteen wants to note that although some important people may be gone, this is for sure not the end..."We'll meet and live and laugh again, I'll see you in my dreams, yeah up around the riverbed, for death is not the end, and I'll see you in my dreams."

These are our brief first thoughts after our first listen to the album from start to finish. We will for sure be diving more into the songs but we wanted to give you an early glimpse into what we thought and also give you a little taste of what to expect. All in all...Springsteen fans are going to be very happy October 23.