Retro Bruce: Harbor Lights
Thanks all for your contributions! You were asked to score each track on Harbor Lights, and we appreciate every single response. It helps build up a more accurate picture. Here are the end results!
A reminder of the tracks:
This was Bruce’s debut record with a solo credit. His band at this point if effectively a trio with guests, with John Molo on drums and the Yellowjackets’ Jimmy Haslip on bass. Jerry Garcia, Phil Collins, Bonnie Raitt, Branford Marsalis and Pat Metheny guest.
This was a big jump from Night on the Town. Disbanding the Range was the first major change in career direction for Bruce, and I remember the initial reaction. The tour with Jimmy Haslip in ’93 soon put paid to any doubts, and the high marks on this survey prove the point. The title track gets the highest score since the first record, and currently stands third in the all-time list of songs since we started this project. Of course, we have several records to come!
All Music: “All Music review: Leaving behind the Range, Bruce Hornsby trades heartland rock for a cooler, jazzier sound with Harbor Lights, an album that nonetheless retains his affinity for sincere portraits of American life, love, and heartache. The title track is a humid, celebratory song that evokes a romantic summer evening in the South, setting the stage for a collection of humanistic songs. If the album has an underlying theme, it’s the necessity of seeing yourself and the ones you love through the hard times as well as the good. The purely upbeat songs, like Rainbow’s Cadillac and What a Time, are counterbalanced by the sober Fields of Gray and The Tide Will Rise, and the cultural commentary of Talk of the Town. The music is uniformly excellent, with Hornsby’s piano work blending seamlessly into the rich arrangements. Each song usually ends with an extended instrumental section, but these flow naturally instead of feeling like tacked-on jam sessions. And Hornsby isn’t just showing off here, as he lets other voices, like Branford Marsalis’ sax and Pat Metheny’s guitar, get their say. In later albums, Hornsby’s focus on music would tend to overtake his lyrical content, but Harbor Lights marks the point at which he found the right balance between virtuosic playing and personal storytelling.”
Next up is Hot House. When we’re done with every record, we’ll compare every single track’s score.