After the bleak, sad stories and intimate feel of 2005's 'Devils & Dust', Bruce Springsteen returns with his first covers album - a record made for summer, friends and good times.

Gathering together standards made famous by folk legend Pete Seeger, 'We Shall Overcome' marks an off-the-beaten track detour for fans but should also please those who find Springsteen's work with the E-Street Band too slick and prefer something rougher around the edges.

Recorded in three one-day sessions in three separate years (1997, 2005 and 2006), Springsteen shares the floor here with 13 different musicians - the results feeling more like a jam session than a Springsteen album per se. There are some bleak lyrics, but the mood that's conjured up is either happy, defiant or hopeful.

While its charms are undeniable and the song choices a revelation for non-folk fans, arguably the most important thing about 'The Seeger Sessions' is what it says about Springsteen himself. At 56 his work ethic is life-affirming and his hunger for his craft puts many of his peers, and musicians half his age, to shame.

These sessions might be a little long in places, but when the party's in full swing it's hard to keep still.

Harry Guerin