Face the Promise Label: Capitol Records
You gotta love Bob Seger. The guy is the heartbeat of American rock and roll. He’s pool halls, he’s Main Street. He’s open road and sunsets. He’s Chevy truck and he’s Harley Davidson. He’s gruff yet tender, he’s laughter and he’s pain. He’s a singer, a songwriter, a guitar player and a producer. He collaborates and duets on film, vinyl, and stage. The only thing this guy ever did wrong was be born within a few years of Bruce Springsteen. Otherwise, there would’ve been twice as much room for him on the charts and in the record bins from ’75 to ’85. Now at better than 60 years old, Seger shows that he’s still got something left in the tank with Face The Promise, his first album of new material in 11 years.
Without over-thinking it, this record is a godsend for Capitol Records. At a time when the major labels are reeling from consecutive years of profit bloodletting, the silver-bearded savior comes swooping in with a dozen unshakeable songs about daydreams, cool nights, long rides and the Promised Land. Seger wrote every song himself, except for the Vince Gill-scribed “Real Mean Bottle,” which is a duet with fellow Motor City brother Kid Rock. In its simplest state, Face the Promise feels like going home. It’s familiar and easy, it’s predictable in the best way. From the high-octane opener, “Wreck This Heart,” to the final tender chord of “The Long Goodbye,” all the vintage Seger components are present. With guitars galore, abundant piano and scores of female background vocals, the late ‘70s and early ‘80s are revisited time and again.
The lyric “Everything I do is just a little wrong, every day for me is the same” tells you that Seger is, to borrow from his back catalog, still the same. Would you really want it any other way? The new single, “Wait for Me,” fills the same instantly recognizable space that “Against the Wind” first did. “I will answer the wind, I will leave with the tide / I’ll be out on the road, every chance I can ride,” he croons, justifying the countless shots within the album art of Seger perched on his Harley with the rolling heartland as a backdrop.
The title track proves the old man ain’t gone soft. His guitar squealing and cymbals crashing to a riff that pirates Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, the Travelin’ Man scowls, “So long Mississippi, so long Alabam’, I wanna face the promise of the Promised Land.” The only entry that rocks harder is the aforementioned “Real Mean Bottle,” a boot-scootin’ roadhouse bruiser that brings Kid Rock along for purpose, not just for show. By the time a strings-rich country duet with Patty Loveless (“The Answer’s in the Question”) hits, you forget that Seger is 60 and that you’re a generation older yourself. Every backseat-at-the-drive-in-movies emotion is rekindled at some point throughout Face the Promise, and that is something that should satisfy the label, the artist, and by all means, the fan.