What does it sound like?:
Like many I guess, the immediate thought when Bruce Hornsby’s name comes up is his 1986 mega hit “The Way It Is”. Great songwriting, excellent pianist, but maybe a little MOR (or maybe just over familiarity). But then again, I also know that he played with the Grateful Dead in their Fare Thee Well reunion concerts.
So when his latest album came along, it was always worth giving it a go….. boy was I surprised.
Firstly, this is a complex album that takes a few listens to sink in. After a week or so in the car and at home, these songs are really getting under the skin.
There a a number of collaborators from Bon Ivor’s Justin Vernon, legendary ECM drummer Jack Dejohnette and probably most effectively contemporary classical sextet yMusic, who add haunting at times, hyperactive at times orchestrations to a few of the tracks. There’s even a collaboration with legendary Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.
Overall it’s a varied mix of styles – mostly jazz infused, but with his typical melodic singer-songwriter touches still intact and even nods towards Philip Glass on the excellent “Fractals”.
What does it all *mean*?
An album that rewards the effort of giving it time and a proper listen. Forget all your preconceptions about MOR Bruce and give it a go. This is not a ‘conventional’ Bruce Hornsby album.
Goes well with…
A quiet room. Free time to listen properly and probably a good glass of wine.
Might suit people who like…
Great music, great melodic songwriting but prepared to be challenged and surprised……