it's a studio production and REALLY sounds like one. too shiny.
those lame synths filling up the background to sound anthemic.
those horns and string sections which do very little except signify 'anthem' and 'emotion'.
clarence clemmons sounds like shit. maybe he's got old, or maybe it's just bruce holding him back a la the bloody Glory Days fucking video. he's hardly noticeable and when he is he's just copying the chord sequence or main vocal melody.
since when did the E street band forget how to play? listen to the live at Hammersmith cd, or any of the first few studio albums. this band could really PLAY, they were amazing, with so much swing and funk and amazingness. on The Rising they sound like session musicians, and boring ones.
on the other hand, there are a few pretty decent songs. but only a few, and over 15 songs there's just not enough goodness for me. i hate to be this cynical but at times it really does sound like a concerted attempt at a post-911 re-run of Born In The USA style anthemness. and to be honest Bruce is far better than that.