Bruce Hornsby always seems to be right where he should be and where you may least expect to find him. I
received his new record, Absolute Zero, because I have tickets to his upcoming gig in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Bijou Theatre located on S. Gay Street on June 26. Like most of you, I have been listening to Bruce Hornsby for what seems like forever. Way back when I was in high school I discovered Bruce’s music through typical findings (The Way It Is, Every Little Kiss, etc.). Shortly after it was my uncle who turned me on to the music of The Grateful Dead. Finding out that Bruce Hornsby was a member of what would soon become my favorite band, I overindulged in everything he put his fingertips to. I still do to this day. I love The Other Ones. I wish I had been able to see The Sensitive Ones on that short tour in 1999. I have to admit that I usually lap up anything that Bruce’s puts his musical interest in. Call it whatever you will. I won’t take any offense to it.
Bruce has turned me on to so many different musical artists. His music evolves with each record. His approach, and that of the Noisemakers changes every time I see them. Bruce has never been one to be content or settle with the status quo. This new record, Absolute Zero, finds Bruce welcoming back some old friends, such as Jack DeJohnette on drums and Robert Hunter contributing lyrics. He even, perhaps, introduces some new friends that have been on the “Hornsby periphery” for several years. Hello to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, yMusic, and The Staves. The Noisemakers, current members and a drummer on loan with Eric Clapton (see: Sonny Emory) all take part in the recording of this record.
I really enjoy the boundaries that Bruce pushes with this record. It’s a slight departure from the sound we’ve come to “know and love” from him. The thing about it, it’s in that departure that I appreciate this unique and fresh sound. Bruce is completely in his element of experimenting and discovery and he morphed a gem. This record evokes a special feeling in the lyrical structure and the texture that each song offers, through melody and style that is really, in a way, what Bruce has always does.When I listen to old records (or recordings I have) I can remember almost exactly where I was and how it made me feel. To pick a new favorite off this new record is impossible. I process each song independently and they all to work together. Outside of Harbor Lights which, in my opinion, was ready to hit the road running right away. Absolute Zero, gives us some insight to where Bruce’s “new” sound may be headed and it’s in that setting on the stage with The Noisemakers that some of these news songs will really take shape and form something completely different.
Bruce doesn’t play the “hits” that folks desire to hear when they come to a Noisemakers show. Some probably wish he would! If you want to hear those, you can pop into your local watering hole and slide a few bucks into Bluetooth Jukebox they offer. You’re bound to find the “hits”. This offering are the songs, and this is the record where Bruce Hornsby is right now. Right where I expect him to be. He and Garcia pushed each other. He and Steve Kimock pushed each other. This new record and fresh faces who are not formally introduced us push Bruce Hornsby in a direction that he could be accepting of. I know, for a fact, that I cannot wait to see these songs in a live setting to see what direction he takes each in. On any given night, they’ll make me think differently. I can always come back to the record when I want to hear that specific sound and emotion that only Bruce Hornsby can provide.
If you’re in Knoxville for his June 26 gig, give me a shout so we can say hello and talk all things Bruce. Or not! We can chat about anything else as well. Enjoy the new record for everything it is: NEW and full of whatever you want to feel from it.
Patrick Thomas Gildea – Knoxville Calling