We ushered in 2012 with the knowledge that a new Bruce Springsteen album was on the horizon, but we didn’t know just how long we’d have to wait to hear it.

As it turns out, the Boss was planning a January surprise for us: Today (Jan. 19), Springsteen releases ‘We Take Care of Our Own,’ the leadoff single from his 17th album, ‘Wrecking Ball.’

Featuring guest appearances from Tom Morello and Matt Chamberlain, and produced by Ron Aniello (whose previous credits include albums by Lifehouse, Jars of Clay, and Gavin DeGraw), ‘Wrecking Ball’ will reach stores on March 6.

It’s described by Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau as having “social overtones” and “a very pronounced spiritual dimension.”

According to an unnamed source, the album is “the angriest album he’s ever made,” with a pronounced creative focus on matters of “economic justice.” It’s also described as “very rock and roll” while making plenty of room for “unexpected textures — loops, electronic percussion… an amazing sweep of influences and rhythms, from hip-hop to Irish folk rhythms.”

We can’t really vouch for any of that yet, but after playing ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ (available now at Amazon and iTunes) at steadily increasing volume levels all morning, we can tell you the new record contains at least one rousing anthem that’ll sound fantastic cranked up on the radio with the windows rolled down and your best girl at your side. Vintage Springsteen, in other words. If this single is at all reflective of what the rest of ‘Wrecking Ball’ contains, we have a lot to look forward to.

Bruce Springsteen ‘Wrecking Ball’ Tracklist:

01. We Take Care of Our Own

02. Easy Money

03. Shackled and Down

04. Jack of All Trades

05. Death to My Hometown

06. The Depression

07. Wrecking Ball

08. You’ve Got It

09. Rocky Ground

10. Land of Hope and Dreams

11. We Are Live

12. Swallowed Up (iTunes Bonus Track)

13. American Land (iTunes Bonus Track)

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