American Beauty (2014)

1. American Beauty 2. Mary Mary 3. Hurry Up Sundown 4. Hey Blue Eyes


I debated on whether or not to include this one. A four song EP (do they still call them “EPs”?) that coincided with one of those “National Record Store Day” events or something. I think it was designed to get people interested in visiting one of the dwindling number of record stores across the country. Of course, it was eventually made available online, so I’m not sure what the point exactly was supposed to be.

The four songs featured here are “leftovers” from the recently released High Hopes. Unfortunately, that record was considered mediocre by most of his fans, so having a four song set of songs that didn’t “make” a mediocre album is really no cause for most to get excited.

Sure enough, this record isn’t anything special. Nothing bad, but the songs feel uninspired and don’t really add anything original or extraordinary to Springsteen’s mass caliber of work. The High Hopes album was pretty diverse, so you can’t really tell these songs were considered contenders. Two of the songs, Mary Mary and the protest infested Hey Blue Eyes sound more like they belong on 2005’s Devils and Dust. In fact, Mary Mary sounds way too much like Leah from that album. The latter of the two is pretty good as far as protest songs go, but sadly Bruce once again lets his wife sing backing vocals. Oy. It makes you miss Yoko Ono. I guess we should all be thankful there’s no Tom Morello.

The other two songs sound like they’d be more at home on 2008’s Magic. Still, though, nothing great. I guess everyone should be glad he didn’t make this thingonly available in record stores. Had that been the case, many would have felt obliged to buy it. My guess is that most won’t buy this 14-minute collection after they’ve had a chance to listen to it on a streaming service a few times.

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