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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SEEGER SESSIONS - SONY and BMG
Record Rating: ****

Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - Sony and BMG For more than thirty years, Springsteen in his music has offered us emboldening reassurance that life, no matter how closefisted it many seem, is worth keeping faith in. A generation earlier, there was singer Pete Seeger who turned the political into the personal and the personal into the universal, as he sang his songs as if they were news bulletins from the front lines of the human experience.

Seegerís lyrics were broken and colloquial, like the speech of a man telling the stories he feels compelled to tell if only to try to be free of them. On his latest release, the graying but still boyish Springsteen takes the songs of the 87-year-old folk laureate to a deeper place. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is an intensely personal project, an acoustic outing recorded in three one-day sessions at a farmhouse with just 13 players.

Fans of both the artists will be pleasantly surprised with the result. Most of Seeger's original recordings were sparse and simple, featuring just him and his banjo, a far cry from the big folk band that Springsteen uses here. The thirteen tracks find Springsteen in high spirits, his joy infectious as he explores the various strands of American music that preceded rock and roll. Like a train in a Bob Dylan song, he just canít stop. Sing along song Froggie Went A Courtiní comes off with a back-alley swagger, while Jesse James offers some high spirits from some lively Appalachian holler.

Springsteen also gets downright goofy on a passel of tracks: the defiance that fueled The River also gives rise to the ramshackle Old Dan Tucker. The relevance of his cover of We Shall Overcome can't be missed, as even today war looms in the world. If youíre a Springsteen fan, listen to this album; it may surprise you.

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