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Bruce Hornsby & Range - Scenes From The Southside - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €29.95

Stylistically, this isn't very different from The Way It Is: relaxed, unassuming piano-based pop songs with synthesizers that support the music without becoming too intrusive and drums that are mixed fairly high (although not as high as on Phil Collins or Genesis records from the same era). As for songwriting, there's nothing here quite on the level of "The Way It Is" or the stunning "The River Runs Low". But "I Will Walk with You" comes close. Containing one of Hornsby's most affecting vocals, it combines a down-to-earth persona with a tension-filled melody as only Hornsby can among male singer-songwriters. The album's other highlights were all singles although "Jacob's Ladder" was written for Huey Lewis and the News, who had a hit with it. I prefer Hornsby's version (less smooth and slick). "Look Out Any Window" is a plea for the environment that features an insistent horizontal melody in its verses. "The Valley Road" is an instantly catchy tale of lovers forced apart by the fact that they come from different classes. Its last minute or so features one of his finest piano solos. The lyrics to "Defenders of the Flag" (written by Bruce's brother John) could have cut a little deeper, but Bruce mostly makes up for it with a slightly snarky vocal. Lewis plays harmonica on this track.

On the negative side, a certain bloatedness creeps in at points: two of the album's nine songs exceed seven minutes in length. "The Road Not Taken" is one. It's a decent (but not truly compelling) tale of wondering what might have been in a romantic relationship. The other is "The Show Goes On", where Hornsby plays up the drama too much musically. It opens with a solo piano figure that isn't as good as the one on "Every Little Kiss" or as great as the one on the title track from Harbor Lights. And nether is as outright mediocre as the album's closer, "Til the Dreaming's Done". Another slice of what-might-have-been, it does contain some mandolin from somebody (guitarist / keyboardist Peter Harris, I assume). It's probably a coincidence, but the worst three songs here have lyrics written by Bruce himself.

There is also "The Old Playground", a tribute to one of Hornsby's lifelong loves: basketball. Not a bad slice-of-life sketch at all, but Hornsby would use basketball imagery more interestingly on the Harbor Lights track "Rainbow's Cadillac".

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