Review: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Letter to You’ effectively combines mortal musings with musical comfort food

If you miss his sociopolitical perspective, it does show up, cloaked in symbolism, in one cynical track, “Rainmaker,” a metaphorical rage against the machine that’s a direct descendent of the title track of “Magic,” in which he again casts politicos as hucksters. The album is otherwise bereft of that kind of commentary, but it’s also devoid of the character songs that filled “Western Stars” last year. Those two albums are his high-water marks, post-“The Rising,” for a reason, and their more literary flourishes are sometimes missed as he keeps things surprisingly personal here. The slow-drawling voiceover of the documentary sometimes makes it seem as if he had a lot of alternate takes from the script of “Springsteen on Broadway” that he still wanted to get out of his system. He hasn’t gotten out of that mode yet, post-Broadway, and maybe he never will: Watching some of his friends and cohorts disappear seems to have given him a different kind of urgency that’s taken away his desire to disappear into character.

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