Listening to any new Bruce Springsteen album feels like putting on a soft warm sweater - the feeling is familiar, but it's always so comfortable and soothing. After the somewhat adventurous, but occasionally dull Western Stars, we are handed a gem that sounds undeniably like a Bruce Springsteen album. Bruce has teamed up with his seasoned E Street Band and despite their age, they still pack a punch. The music here is amazingly lively, generous and loud, just what I would expect on a record that reunites Bruce with his legendary band. I would be lying if I said that Bruce dares to venture into new musical territories to unveil something truly fresh here... Anyone who knows a thing or two about Springsteen will recognize his typical formula here immediately. And if you're a real fan, a few songs (say, Song for Orphans) here might feel VERY familiar, because he has resurrected a couple of tunes he wrote in his early years, when he was finding his voice and seeking stardom. Now those have been found and what else can he do but enjoy himself.
This is what the consistent and entertaining Letter to You sounds like - a tight, committed journey into the magical dimension where Bruce's signature sound and powerful writing spring from. It is indeed a personal album, and a highly satisfying one. I'm not a huge fan of House of a Thousand Guitars, which is average, but all the other songs are at least good, often reminding me of the best tracks on his Magic album. I do feel like this is a throwback album in the sense that his vocal delivery and stylistic choices might indeed take you back to some less popular Springsteen albums: the opener One Minute You're Here begins like something off of The Ghost of Tom Joad and Burnin' Train might as well have been on Human Touch with its "wall of sound". I have two big favorites that I can't get enough of though: the political Rainmaker is a powerful anthem and Ghosts is a wonderfully wholesome banger. But the whole album feels very focused and the E Street Band truly shines once again, shaping Letter to You into an admirable powerhouse record that encapsulates the magic of music and embraces this band's long collective journey.