The Rising's record is simple, yet perfectly executed packaging. There’s nothing really flashy like the cover folding out, or any bonuses inside, but it still comes across as high-quality packaging. The vinyl sleeves are a nice quality with artwork and lyrics printed on them. The records themselves are nice and heavy with on-theme custom stickers in the middle. The quality of the records are also perfect, delivering the best-sounding listen through of the album I’ve heard, despite it suffering a bit of the early 2000s loudness war on compression (no fault of the vinyl print).
The stakes were high when The Rising came out. All eyes and ears were on Springsteen.
Not only was this the first album of his in seven years, but it was also in the wake of the most devastating terrorist attack on United States soil. Bruce Springsteen had spent decades building himself a name as America’s modern folk hero, so naturally, people were eagerly awaiting for his music after such a horrible time.
The album opens with "Lonesome Day”, a dark song about loss, desire with revenge, with undertones of hope. It is a perfect opener for such an album as it was everything people wanted and expected to hear from him at this time. It also perfectly set Springsteen up to subvert and exceed these expectations.
For the sake of not writing a 20-page essay, we skip ahead to “Paradise," arguably Springsteen's most lyrically daring song ever. After about a dozen songs relating to the aftermath and effects of 9/11 from various perspectives, he delves into the mind of a suicide bomber desperately searching for meaning. It’s a truly eerie, disturbing song, especially within the context of the rest of the album. It’s also a prime example of Springsteen being able to put you in the shoes of anyone.
The album ends with "My City In Ruins," making sure the listener departs with a true sense of hope for the future, and ties together the album's themes in a powerful, unforgettable moment.
There are very few artists who can say they released one of their best albums 30 years into their career, but because of The Rising, Bruce Springsteen absolutely can. It’s one of his most daring, musically tight, and poignant albums in his entire discography, and a truly important part of American music history.
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