Last year, Bruce Springsteen released a new album called Western Stars. It was a solo record of songs rooted in a ’70s singer-songwriter vein, and his first collection of new music since 2014’s odds-and-ends album High Hopes. It was also the first bit of new music following years of more retrospective-oriented endeavors: the E Street Band’s triumphant River anniversary tour, Springsteen’s memoir, and his Broadway show. Yet at the same time Western Stars did not exactly mark a new era — it was another album that was going back and exhuming stuff Springsteen had sitting around for a while. Along the way, there were, as always, tons of rumors coming from supposed Springsteen insiders about new E Street activity. Then, last night, we suddenly got some info about a new Springsteen album called Letter To You.
That news was leaked by an Amazon posting, but today it’s official: Springsteen is about to return with his 20th studio album. It features nine new songs and three recordings of some very old Springsteen material; “Song For Orphans,” “If I Was The Priest,” and “Janey Needs A Shooter” all date back to the ’70s. And as reported/suspected, it finds Springsteen reuniting with the E Street Band, but in a different way than usual.
“I love the emotional nature of ‘Letter To You,’” Springsteen said in a statement. “And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.”
Considering Springsteen’s latter-day career has boasted plenty of strong songwriting hamstrung by too-slick production, the idea of a raw E Street album recorded in less than a week is an intriguing prospect. The album’s title track has also arrived, and you can feel a bit of that live energy in it. Check it out below.
Letter To You is out 10/23. Pre-order it here.