Bruce Springsteen is certainly no stranger to acoustic-based, folk-inspired music. He began his career as a post-Dylan troubadour, and he's been making "unplugged" albums as far back as 1982's NEBRASKA. He's already recorded Woody Guthrie material, so it's not a shock that he would release a tribute album to folk icon Pete Seeger. WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SEEGER SESSIONS celebrates not just Seeger's musical influence, of course, but also the political stands the singer took, which obviously resonate with the famously progressive Springsteen.
Unlike NEBRASKA, though, this is no bare-bones affair. The E Street Band may be absent, but Bruce tackles Seeger's tunes in classic larger-than-life Boss style, with a huge band that includes several string players, a horn section, accordion, and more. Incorporating everything from Dixieland to zydeco into the folk/blues template, Bruce stirs up a rowdy cauldron of Americana teeming with as much pure human passion as social import. WE SHALL OVERCOME is likely to be one of the biggest albums ever made under the "traditional folk" banner, but it's full of small surprises as Springsteen gets to the spiritual and musical heart of the matter.
Rolling Stone (p.57) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[W]ith his first-ever album of songs written by other people, it feels like he's turned to the music of our shared past to find a moral compass for a nation that's gone off the rails."
Rolling Stone (p.106) - Ranked #29 in Rolling Stone's "The Top 50 Albums Of 2006" -- "These big-band treatments combine Dixieland brass, cantina accordions and barn-dance fiddles..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.134) - "Enlivened by flailing banjos, tub-thumping horns, and hopped up accordions....[He] isn't afraid to mix in some merriment with the message." -- Grade: A-
Q (p.112) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's good to hear Springsteen with the pressure off, tapping deep into the bedrock of American music and singing and playing for the sheer joy of it."
Q (p.125) - Ranked #16 in Q Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of 2006" -- "[I]t proved to be a rip-roaring, ramshackle masterstroke."
No Depression (p.123) - "[T]he] album deftly balances such deeply spiritual forays with a lot of upbeat material....Bringing a deep personal connection to some of the most quintessentially American songs ever written."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.100) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It takes easily five seconds to discover this is a Springsteen as you've never heard him before....A big band of little-knowns tumbles and jumbles diverse folk idioms all around him..."