Spirit Trail (1998)

Si Twining

Bruce Hornsby’s Spirit Trail is a double-album covering 90 minutes. This time Bruce carries the ball, rather than utilising a number of guests. (1998)


Music player

Released: 1998

Chart: #148 US

Guests: Joe Lee, David Mansfield

Your scores for Spirit Trail:

The scores here were really interesting. Of Bruce’s five records to date, you scored this the highest for longevity, lyrics and musicality, yet the lowest by some margin for musical collaborations.

The five highest rated songs beat out anything on the previous release Hot House, and Fortunate Son is the highest ranked song since the orginal album, bar Harbor Lights’ title track.

We even have a couple of non-ballads in your top five, where Great Divide and Resting Place score very well.

The high score for longevity is reflected in today’s setlists, where almost all are played today. Curiously, we have no record of Listen to the Silence ever having being played live.The lower end of the scale saw Listen to the Silence and Pete and Manny push the total Spirit Trail score to just below Hot House, by 1%.

Spirit Trail - the breakdown

King of the Hill - 77.6%
Resting Place - 82.1%
Preacher in the RIng 1 - 69.2%
Preacher in the Ring 2 - 70.9%
Song C - 75.2%
Sad Moon - 73.3%
Pete and Manny - 62.6%
Fortunate Son - 87.8%
Sneaking Up on Boo Radley - 79.7%
Great Divide - 86.6%
Line in the Dust - 72.6%
See the Same Way - 79.7%
Shadow Hand - 85.4%
Sunlight Moon - 71.4%
Listen to the Silence - 65.7%
Funhouse - 77.6%
Sunflower Cat - 78.0%
Song D - 71.9%
Swan Song - 87.3%
Variations - 71.4%
LYRICS - 89.2%


Very good!

The highest rated tracks fare very well; lyrics and musicality compare favourably with previous releases.

Spirit Trail wiki page

Music press reviews:

Bruce Hornsby Spirit Trail

CD Shakedown: …has inspired strong feelings, with some critics calling it the Album of the Year. Nobody seems to like the silly cover (a 1966 photo of Hornsby’s late Uncle Charley), except Hornsby, who explains “It’s ironic to use an inane cover, because it’s a fairly serious record.” Fans of challenging pop, with a languorous streak, will enjoy Spirit Trail.

Boston Globe, August 14 1998: “Elemental. It’s not a word always associated with Bruce Hornsby, whose sometimes ornate, classical-jazz influenced piano style has earned him sessions with Ornette Coleman and Wayne Shorter. But Hornsby can also cut back to a funkier, stripped-down approach, as he does with the post-Grateful Dead band the Other Ones and on an upcoming double CD, “Spirit Trail,” which sports his most accessible music in years.”

Related topics on The Board:

Spirit Trail board discussion

Sadness on the Spirit Trail