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When Bruce Springsteen makes an album, he typically has an idea what the album is going to be about as he is writing and recording. Wrecking Ball, an album inspired by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, is his most recent example of that. But Springsteen also writes and records songs that are not slated for any particular album. High Hopes, his latest release, is a collection of those songs.

Springsteen asked producer Ron Aniello to look at those leftover songs and see if he could make a coherent album out of them. While no single theme carries throughout the album, there are nonetheless some great moments and some powerful songs. One of these, “American Skin (41 Shots),” was written in the wake of a police shooting of an unarmed young black man. The song is a chilling reminder that we still don’t live in a place where all people are treated equally. High Hopes does not have the overall effect of many of his albums but is a fine collection of songs. (Columbia)

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