Western Stars is the nineteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, released through Columbia Records on June 14, 2019. 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 2005’s Devils & Dust.
A documentary film on the making of the album will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019, with a wide release set for the following month. However, Springsteen is not expected to do a tour 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. It is the first time that he has not supported an album with a tour since Nebraska.
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."
"Hello Sunshine" was released on April 26 as the lead single, along with a music video. "There Goes My Miracle" was released as the album's second single on May 17, 2019. The album's third single, "Tucson Train", was released on May 30, 2019, along with a music video directed by Thom Zimny. A music video for the album's fourth single, "Western Stars", also directed by Zimny, was released on June 14, 2019.
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 in September 2019. 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 in a barn that is almost 100 years old. Springsteen told E Street Radio, "I was looking for a way to get some of the music live to an audience, and so we figured that [this movie] was the best way to do it.” The film's trailer premiered before showings of the Springsteen musical Blinded By the Light.
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."
Warner Bros. Pictures will be releasing the film in October 2019.
Western Stars received critical acclaim from music critics. 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, which is based on 31 reviews indicating "universal acclaim." 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."
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. It is the first time that Springsteen and Madonna topped the Billboard charts together since 1985, when Born in the U.S.A. was number one and Like A Virgin was number two.
- Hitch Hikin'
- The Wayfarer
- Tucson Train
- Western Stars
- Sleepy Joe's Cafe
- Drive Fast (The Stuntman)
- Chasin' Wild Horses
- Somewhere North of Nashville
- There Goes My Miracle
- Hello Sunshine
- Moonlight Motel
- "Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars." Discogs, 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
- Greene, Andy. "Watch the Trailer For Bruce Springsteen's Concert Film 'Western Stars'." Rolling Stone, 19 August 2019. Web. 19 August 2019. Cite error: Invalid
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- Bernstein, Scott. "Bruce Springsteen Officially Announces 'Western Stars' Film." JamBase, 16 August 2019. Web. 19 August 2019.
- Caulfield, Keith. "Madonna & Bruce Springsteen Are Nos. 1 & 2 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart for First Time Since 1985." Billboard, 24 June 2019. Web. 19 August 2019.
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