“High Hopes” for Springsteen fans

Latest collection of tunes from The Boss impresses

The Boss still hasn’t quit. At age 64, legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen still wears his signature voice and unparalleled guitar skills with pride. Topping the charts for the 11th time with his latest album “High Hopes,” Springsteen maintains his standing as one of the greatest musicians of the past century.

Still, “High Hopes” isn’t a typical album. Rather than mixing pre-released singles with other tracks, “Hopes” is a collection of both some older Springsteen songs that never left the studio and revised versions of well-known favorites. The album’s title track was first recorded in 1995, only now to be released after substantial restoration.

Does its age show? Not in the slightest. The song fuses all of Springsteen’s characteristic energy and passion with a catchy and uplifting chorus. It is easily one of the most motivational and peppy songs I’ve ever heard.

Even the most mundane of college situations — nearly failing an exam or needing to go an extra mile at the gym — seem remedied by Springsteen’s “high hopes.” The album carries an infectious energy that still cheers me up, even after 12 times on repeat. The saxophone melody and spurts of trumpet accompanying Springsteen only enhance the mood, while the blending of rock and jazz is near perfect.

If Springsteen’s lyrics and instrumentals don’t get you, the guitar solos will. Featured in almost every song, these passages drop sharply and surprisingly into the rhythm. By the time you’ve caught up to this rapid change in focus, there’s nothing to do but ride along. Though Springsteen occasionally veers into “showoff” territory, he’s quite honestly earned the right to do so.

If you’re seeking a softer tone, The Boss dishes out some of his mellowest fare as well, including “Harry’s Place” and “Hunter of Invisible Game,” two tracks originally intended for Springsteen’s 2001 album, “The Rising.” These are soulful and patriotic tunes that conjure up the image of Springsteen kicking back, drinking beer and strumming his trusty guitar.

For this, much of the music on “Hopes” had me reaching for my Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts — only to have the harsh reality of mid-January settle back in. That’s when I realized how simply amazing “High Hopes” was. Critics of the album say it runs too short — it comes in at 56 minutes — and that it lacks original content. But anything that made me collectively forget the frigid weather, the soul-crushing work of second semester and the insanity that is Greek recruitment has to be nothing short of phenomenal. Boss on, Springsteen.

Published January 27, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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