Bruce Springsteen and Brendan O'Brien

What started as a good pairing has clearly worn out its welcome. Bruce enlisted O'Brien for 2002's The Rising and although the record has a number of great songs, the production was a bit over-the-top for Springsteen's signature sound. O'Brien was much more restrained on 2005's Devils & Dust, Springsteen's best record in almost twenty years. But then came last year's Magic, a record that took the overproduction of The Rising to new heights. The songs were far too glistening and sharp, and O'Brien's work on tracks such as "Radio Nowhere" and "Gypsy Biker" made it clear that it's time that Springsteen part ways with O'Brien. There's little question that the producer has helped in sparking Springsteen's seemingly endless creativity over the past seven years or so, but it's time to let Bruce move in a new direction.

Bruce will be firing out Working On a Dream early next year, and the title track suggests that once again, O'Brien is pushing Springsteen's sound beyond what's necessary. Springsteen seems so inspired of late and his fans can only hope that the remainder of this record is a bit more sparse, but all indications suggest otherwise.

In order to recapture Springsteen's true identity and spirit, we can only hope that 2009 is the last run with O'Brien. He's done so much to reinvigorate Bruce's sound and soul, but this relationship has run its course.