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It has been said that Bruce Springsteen’s music sounds better when times are tough. This time Springsteen has taken stories of struggling in and frustration over the economic downturn and turned them into arena-ready anthems. The classic E Street Band sound is there, and even the late Clarence Clemons is on two tracks.

High points include the opening track, “We Take Care of Our Own,” and the title track, a song written to commemorate the demolition of Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s noteworthy, though, that even as Springsteen sings about hardship, there is always a sense of hope. This is seen most clearly in “Jack of All Trades,” a song written from the perspective of a recently laid-off man who is comforting his wife with the promise that he’ll find a way for them to get by. Springsteen has made a lot of albums since the 1970s, but Wrecking Ball stands among the best of them. (Columbia)

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