Review: The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
Label: SideOneDummy Records
Released: August 19, 2008
Finally, someone has married punk with Springsteen. On one hand, it seems like a daunting task and on another like something that should have been done long ago. Springsteen is, after all, one of rock's biggest artists, racking up bazillions in album sales and selling out arenas the world over. There's not much punk rock in that. However, he's gotten there by writing everyman songs and simple poetry that break down class barriers. He may be rich beyond belief now, but he has a working man's heart. Sure, he's become too much of an adult artist and it's been years since he's made an album worthy of the name he established 30 years ago, but that's all the better reason for the Gaslight Anthem re-energize his legacy.
The '59 Sound is a thoroughly punk rock album with tinges of rockabilly and Americana, but it also finds Springsteen in its heart. Part of that is the songwriting and another part is the vocal delivery, but it goes deeper. It even goes beyond their ability to capture both the bombast of "Born to Run" as well as the intimacy of "I'm on Fire." The Gaslight Anthem has that same strange ability to be poet to the rest of us, to turn clichés into truths. They connect, no matter who you are, so long as you have a heart that's ever been restless or broken.
With The '59 Sound, the Gaslight Anthem opened two doors: They opened punk rock up to Springsteen in a way that is free of adult-oriented, arena-playing rock stardom. They've also opened up a new channel for those Springsteen fans interested in more than just nostalgia. This is not an album that finds some small patch of common ground, but a plot so huge, it's amazing no one's discovered it yet.
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