Friday, March 10, 2017

Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love

Bruce Springsteen's eighth album, released in 1987, was a bit of a departure from what had gone before, with keyboard as the lead instrument and guitar and everything else relegated to a supporting role.  If you can get beyond John Landau's eighties production, it's an understated gem.

After the kind of odd vocal and harmonica opener Ain't Got You, we settle into the album proper with the defiant Tougher Than The Rest.  The upbeat melody is dragged back by the droning keyboard so it's hard to imagine the hardcore Springsteen punching the air to this, or much else on here.  If anything it would be the rabble rousing Spare Parts, but this is a bit out of place here, it's strident in a way the rest of the album isn't.  

A complete change of tack arrives with the stripped bare Cautious Man, a simple acoustic song in the mould of Nebraska.  But moody keyboards are the order of the day here.  Walk Like A Man, Two Faces and especially One Step Up are made for contemplative staring out the window.  The subject matter of the lyrics is disarming, Springsteen singing about "trying to walk like a man".  The last of these is particularly downbeat as he sings about "when I look at myself I don't see the man I wanted to be".

The title track is a curious beast.  Probably the best known song here, it has a dollop of eighties studio effects in it, yet somehow manages to reach beyond this to become a redemptive anthem, singing about how it's "easy for two people to lose each other in this tunnel of love", and then back it up with a rare (on this album) guitar solo.  The album ends with more moodiness in the shape of Valentine's Day where the track plods along in a blissful gloom before drifting into oblivion.  Dismiss this album at your peril, it's a Bruce Springsteen album for people who find Bruce Springsteen a bit much.