Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Bruce Hornsby - Harbor Lights (1993)

Long tall cool one....


Released April 1993

This was Bruce Hornsby's first "solo" recording, without The Range, although long-time drummer John Molo was still with him. It is still full of piano-driven, melodious AOR-style rock, with sensitive, observant lyrics, although this album has far more jazzy tinges than previous offerings.


1. Harbor Lights
2. Talk Of The Town
3. Long Tall Cool One
4. China Doll
5. Fields Of Grey
6. Rainbow's Cadillac
7. Passing Through
8. The Tide Will Rise
9. What A Time
10. Pastures Of Plenty                          

Harbor Lights opener is an extended mid-tempo rock number with some excellent jazzy guitar improvisation near the end and killer piano too, as is to be expected. Talk Of The Town has some infectious jazz piano and an almost funky backbeat. It has some wry lyrics about small town gossip. Most tracks end with considerable "jamming"-stye instrumentation. This was a deliberate move on Hornsby's part. Hornsby likes to cut his musical chops, but it blends well with the lyrical content - lots of tales of regular American life and love. The musicianship is wonderful from all concerned but it always is matched by the story each song tells. Hornsby never shows off musically, he just loves to play and this albums exemplifies that perfectly. Check out the piano, bass and drums at the end of Talk Of The Town for proof.

Long Tall Cool One is a Steely Dan-esque melodious number about a mysterious character. The saxophone in the background, from the instantly recognisable Branford Marsalis, is intoxicating. China Doll is another funky shuffler that breaks out into a catchy, jazzy chorus. Some superb piano features on this one too. Fields Of Glory is simply gorgeous, summoning up the feel of The Drifters in many ways in its backing vocal harmonies. It is also very redolent of Hornsby's work with The Range, it has a great hook to it. Lovely bass line as well.

Rainbow's Cadillac is incredibly catchy with another piano-drive jazzy refrain. Great stuff. Probably the best cut on the album. Passing Through is another infectious, appealing number with some excellent wah-wah guitar. The Tide Will Rise is a Range-style number about the Virginia water shore, referencing "the Admiral's daughter" (from Every Little Kiss) once more. I guess it rhymes so well with "water". It is a lovely, sweeping, atmospheric song.

What A Time is just sumptuous, featuring some top notch piano from Hornsby. Another great track. Pastures Of Plenty is a more sombre, slow tempo rock number, with some great guitar breaks, to end what is a very enjoyable, moving and uplifting album. Highly recommended.


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