Western Stars

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Western Stars
Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars.png
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 14, 2019 (2019-06-14)
StudioStone Hill Studio, New Jersey
GenreRoots rock, orchestral pop,[1] country pop[2]
Length50:50
LabelColumbia
ProducerRon Aniello
Bruce Springsteen chronology
The Live Series: Songs of Hope
(2019)
Western Stars
(2019)
Singles from Western Stars
  1. "Hello Sunshine"
    Released: April 26, 2019
  2. "There Goes My Miracle"
    Released: May 17, 2019
  3. "Tucson Train"
    Released: May 30, 2019
  4. "Western Stars"
    Released: June 14, 2019
  5. "Sundown (Film Version)"
    Released: October 4, 2019

Western Stars is the nineteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, released through Columbia Records on June 14, 2019.[3] It was produced by Ron Aniello, who worked with Springsteen on his two previous albums: Wrecking Ball (2012) and High Hopes (2014). The album marks Springsteen's first new studio album of solo material since 2012’s Wrecking Ball.

A documentary film on the making of the album premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019, with a wide release set for the following month. However, he will not be touring for the album and announced that he will shift focus towards recording a new album with the E Street Band in the fall of 2019.[4][5]

Background[edit]

Springsteen stated in April 2019 that the album was influenced by "Southern California pop music" of the 1970s, including artists such as Glen Campbell and Burt Bacharach. Upon announcing the album in April 2019, he called it "a return to my solo recordings featuring character-driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements", with a press release characterizing it as about a "range of American themes, of highways and desert spaces, of isolation and community and the permanence of home and hope".[6]

Singles[edit]

"Hello Sunshine" was released on April 26 as the lead single, along with a music video.[7] "There Goes My Miracle" was released as the album's second single on May 17, 2019.[8][9] The album's third single, "Tucson Train", was released on May 30, 2019, along with a music video directed by Thom Zimny.[10] A music video for the album's fourth single, "Western Stars", also directed by Zimny, was released on June 14, 2019. A limited edition 7" vinyl double A-side single, featuring "Western Stars" and "The Wayfarer", will be released on Black Friday Record Store Day on November 29, 2019.[11]

Film[edit]

It was announced on July 23, 2019 that Springsteen will world premiere his co-directed film, Western Stars, at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. The film marks the first directing credit for Springsteen and was co-directed by his longtime collaborator Thom Zimny. The film features Springsteen and his backing band and full orchestra performing the music from the album to a live audience.[12]

Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the festival, said of the film, "We have Bruce Springsteen's directorial debut at the festival, I think he's got a big future ahead of him. It's largely performance, but there is a framing to it. It's very filmic, which is what attracted me. The album and the film are both about this fading Western movie B-level star who's looking back on his life and the decisions he's made. That narrative and that character shape all the songs. In between the songs, you've got Bruce really talking about this character he invented, the story he wrote for the character, and how it reflects back on his own life as he ages and other kind of narratives he's had in his previous albums."[13]

Warner Bros. Pictures will be releasing the film on October 25, 2019. The companion soundtrack for the movie, entitled Western Stars: Songs from the Film, will be released on the same day by Columbia Records.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.0/10[15]
Metacritic84/100[16]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[17]
The A.V. ClubB–[18]
Entertainment WeeklyA–[19]
The Guardian4/5 stars[20]
The Independent5/5 stars[21]
The Irish Times5/5 stars[22]
NME4/5 stars[23]
Pitchfork7.8/10[24]
Q4/5 stars[25]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[26]

Western Stars was met with widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews and ratings from selected mainstream critics, the album received a metascore of 84, based on 31 reviews.[27]

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in May 2019, Will Hermes said that, while several songs "straddle the classic and the cliché", the album's music "evokes country-tinged California pop from the Sixties and Seventies, sounding like nothing [Springsteen]'s done before".[26] In Entertainment Weekly, Maura Johnston applauded Springsteen for "transforming the enormous into the intimate" on the album,[19] while The Independent's Mark Beaumont said the "sumptuous, cinematic album is nothing short of a late-period masterpiece" for the musician.[21] Writing for NME, Thomas Smith regarded Western Stars as "majestic in its scale, but traditional in its subject matter and narratives … a wonderful thing."[23] Pat Carty in Hot Press described the album as a "heartbreaking yet life-affirmingly beautiful record - both elegiac and warm, a trick few others, if any, could pull off."[28] Sam Sodomsky from Pitchfork said, "Springsteen returns with elegiac and wise songwriting conjuring the golden expanse of the American West; it’s his best studio album in years."[24] In the opinion of AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine, "This isn't a piece of nostalgia on Springsteen's part, though. These references deepen a collection of songs that are sweet, sad, and searching, songs that feel finely etched on their own terms but gather a deep, lasting resonance when collected on this enchanting album."[17] The songs were also regarded by Alexis Petridis as "strong enough to withstand the treatment" and rarely reducing themselves to pastiches of "the grownup American pop of Glen Campbell's collaborations with Jimmy Webb or Harry Nilsson's [recordings] of 'Everybody's Talkin'' and 'I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City'." Writing in The Guardian, Petridis hoped Springsteen will "take more stylistic detours in the future", as "it adds up to an album that manages to be both unexpected and of a piece with its author’s back catalogue."[20]

Some reviewers had reservations about the album. In his "Consumer Guide" column, Robert Christgau deemed it a worthy effort and cited its highlights as "Tucson Train" and "Moonlight Motel". However, he believed Springsteen was trying to put across the message that "America used to be better", which the critic said brings to question in what manner will fans receive the musician's nostalgia for America's past: "How many of his faithful will blame it on the rich and how many on the young?"[29] Ludovic Hunter-Tilney issued different complaints in his review for the Financial Times, being especially critical of the record's roots rock and orchestral pop setting. "The combination of twanging western rock and orchestra has a confected, forced feel", he said, adding that "the effect is intended to dignify the lives of the hard-bitten individuals in his lyrics, but instead it sounds like they are being smothered by overbearing string and horn arrangements."[1]

Commercial performance[edit]

Western Stars debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 (behind Madonna’s Madame X) with 66,000 album-equivalent units, of which 62,000 were pure album sales. It is Springsteen's 20th US top 10 album.[30]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Bruce Springsteen.

No.TitleLength
1."Hitch Hikin'"3:37
2."The Wayfarer"4:18
3."Tucson Train"3:31
4."Western Stars"4:41
5."Sleepy Joe's Café"3:14
6."Drive Fast (The Stuntman)"4:16
7."Chasin' Wild Horses"5:03
8."Sundown"3:17
9."Somewhere North of Nashville"1:52
10."Stones"4:44
11."There Goes My Miracle"4:05
12."Hello Sunshine"3:56
13."Moonlight Motel"4:16
Total length:50:50

Charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[31] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[32] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[33] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[34] 3
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[35] 4
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[36] 9
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[37] 4
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[38] 1
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[39] 3
French Albums (SNEP)[40] 3
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[41] 1
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[42] 16
Irish Albums (IRMA)[43] 1
Italian Albums (FIMI)[44] 1
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[45] 16
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[46] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[47] 1
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[48] 12
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[49] 2
Scottish Albums (OCC)[50] 1
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[51] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[52] 3
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[53] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[54] 1
US Billboard 200[30] 2

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[55] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[56] Gold 100,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic (June 12, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen's 'Western Stars' — the American dream and hard-bitten reality". Financial Times. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  2. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (September 13, 2019). "'Western Stars' Review". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen". Apple Music. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  4. ^ s.r.l, Rockol com. "√ Springsteen intervistato a Roma: in studio con la E Street Band in autunno?". Rockol.
  5. ^ "The Boss is coming: Springsteen says he will tour with E Street Band in 2020". NJ.com. May 27, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (April 25, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen Details New Solo Album 'Western Stars'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (April 25, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen Announces New Album Western Stars". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Springsteen, Bruce (May 15, 2019). "There Goes My Miracle coming soon #WesternStarspic.twitter.com/WDgNRGqfq9". Retrieved May 17, 2019 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Springsteen, Bruce (May 16, 2019). "Tomorrow #WesternStarspic.twitter.com/sFUuuXNcE1". Retrieved May 17, 2019 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ BruceSpringsteenVEVO (30 May 2019). "Bruce Springsteen - Tucson Train (Official Video)" – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "SpecialRelease - RECORD STORE DAY". October 8, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  12. ^ "Bruce Springsteen to Debut 'Western Stars' Film at Toronto Film Festival". Rolling Stone. July 23, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Turns Director for Inventive Concert Film 'Western Stars'". IndieWire. July 23, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  14. ^ Minsker, Evan (September 26, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen Announces Western Stars Film Soundtrack". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  15. ^ "Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  16. ^ "Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  17. ^ a b allmusic
  18. ^ McLevy, Alex (June 12, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen tries to lose himself under the cinematic scope of Western Stars". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Johnston, Maura (June 11, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen transforms the enormous into the intimate on Western Stars". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (June 6, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars review – the Boss takes the scenic route". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  21. ^ a b Beaumont, Mark (June 12, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen review, Western Stars: Sumptuous, cinematic album is nothing short of a late-period masterpiece". The Independent. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  22. ^ Breen, Joe (June 7, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars review – His most radical and best album in years". The Irish Times. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Smith, Thomas (June 12, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen – 'Western Stars' review". NME. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  24. ^ a b Sodomsky, Sam (June 14, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen – 'Western Stars'". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  25. ^ "Review". Q. Summer 2019. p. 106.
  26. ^ a b Hermes, Will (May 30, 2019). "Bruce Springsteen Sets Out for Wide Open Territory on 'Western Stars'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  27. ^ "Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen". Metacritic.
  28. ^ Carty, Pat. "Album Review: Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars". Hotpress.
  29. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 18, 2019). "Consumer Guide: September 2019". Substack. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  30. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (June 23, 2019). "Madonna Achieves Ninth No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart With 'Madame X'". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  31. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  32. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  33. ^ "Ultratop.be – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  34. ^ "Ultratop.be – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  35. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  36. ^ "Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201925 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  37. ^ "Danishcharts.dk – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  38. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  39. ^ "Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  40. ^ "Lescharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  41. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  42. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 2019. 25. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  43. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography Bruce Springsteen". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  44. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  45. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums: 2019-06-24" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  46. ^ "Charts.nz – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  47. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  48. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart". OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  49. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  50. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  51. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  52. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  53. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  54. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  55. ^ "Italian album certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved July 15, 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Western Stars" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  56. ^ "British album certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved October 1, 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Western Stars in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.