There are no winners in Nebraska—a bleak sonic landscape where America’s dispossessed are ground into dust by social forces beyond their control. There’s the drifting murderer of the title track; a child whose family slaves away beneath a “Mansion On the Hill”; and a hard-luck guy forced to kill for the mob in “Atlantic City.” Springsteen’s darkest record is also his sparest: just voice and guitar lost in a sea of lonely reverb. There's an almost bone-chilling starkness to these songs, but they're deeply moving too.

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