Reborn Into Soul: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Only The Strong Survive’ album review


Photo from Spotify

Mike Singer, Music Manager

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, a man who has cut his teeth on rock and roll released a cover record of R&B and soul covers on Nov. 11.

At first, I was extremely skeptical about this record. Springsteen in reality has done it all, he became a rock and roll superstar with the E Street Band, went to Broadway for his own play, and then released a country record, 2019’s “Western Stars.”

After it was all said and done, was he able to really pull off a soul record?

After listening to the 51-minute record over the course of 15 different tracks, it’s safe to say that this record fits Springsteen very very well.

I’m not sure what it is with rock stars forming soul bands in their free time and doing covers. Not too long ago, Paul Stanley of Kiss formed Paul Stanley’s Soul Station and released a record, 2021’s “Now and Then.”

At first, I rolled my eyes at the fact that he was making a soul record after announcing that the E Street Band was getting back together, like hello? Get the E Street Band back into the studio for a record!

The record starts off with the title track, “Only The Strong Survive.” The opening track is funky and has some soul to it and sets the tone for the rest of the record which includes background vocalists, horns, and an orchestra section.

The record as a whole, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a complete soul record. I would say that there are some songs like “Soul Days (featuring Sam Cooke)” that sound like they could appear on any Springsteen record.

Throughout the record, Springsteen has a pretty interesting collection of songs. Some of those songs include my favorites like track four, “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” which is a fast, upbeat danceable song that instantly puts the listener in a good mood. As I write this, I’m currently writing this section of the review, I’m listening to this song and it really is a great song. That could be attested to the fact that it was written by Mowtown producer Frank Wilson. “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” is my favorite song on the entire record.

The next song that I really enjoyed on this record is “7 Rooms Of Gloom,” which is track 13. Another great choice by Springsteen is to choose a Four Tops song to cover. I think the faster upbeat songs fit Springsteen’s style a little more than the slower, ballad-like songs on this record like “I Wish It Would Rain.”

I always think of Springsteen singing songs like “Born To Run,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” So to hear him sing ballads and softer songs is a little foreign to me and I’m just not a fan.

I love the idea of artists experimenting and trying different concepts or musical styles on their records. Heck, the Beatles did it, Zeppelin did it, and now Springsteen is doing it. Springsteen has made enough money in his life that he can branch out and try different musical styles for a record.

Whether he is successful is a completely different story. Springsteen will always have his loyal supporters that will buy every record, download every song and see him no matter what but with each record that isn’t rock-oriented, some of the rock fans slowly start to become alienated and turned off to Springsteen which is the last thing he wants to do.

In my opinion, I think that Springsteen doesn’t need to prove himself anymore to anyone, he’s sold out areas, played the Super Bowl, and is now back with the E Street Band selling out areas. On behalf of the rock fans, please, as Bob Segar would say just stick to that “old-time rock ‘n’ roll.”


Like always, here are The Singer’s Thoughts:

  1. I love soul music, it’s different, you don’t hear much of it anymore and there are so many classics from artists that have made a living on soul music. Crossovers between rock and soul usually don’t go together, and this time it isn’t any different
  2. I know people blindly will love this record because it’s Springsteen. That doesn’t make them a bad person for it, people did that with Kiss in the ’80s. They only listened with their eyes and not for the actual music. Fans should do this now, just because it’s the artist you love, doesn’t mean it’s not okay to say you don’t like the record. Sometimes criticism for an artist is a wake-up call to get their act together
  3. Now that the experimental soul record is out of the way, please focus on another E Street record, the fans are always dying for one. If we do get one, make sure Steven Van Zandt gets at least one song, he is the absolute best!


Overall Grade: 5/10