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CD REVIEW: "Bride of The Noisemakers" by Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers

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Cover of "Bride of The Noisemakers" by Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers
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The Norman Transcript

Published: July 29, 2011

ARTIST: Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers

ALBUM: Bride of The Noisemakers

LABEL: 429 Records

YEAR: 2011

Before catching singer-pianist-popper Bruce Hornsby at a solo show at Rose State a few years ago, I had a pretty good idea of what he sounded like and what his style was. Admittedly, I had not followed his career very closely since he was jamming with Jerry Garcia in the early 90’s, at the end of his days with The Range. Still, he had some killer jazz chops, a great turn of phrase at the ready and socially-conscious lyrics that reflected his days as a kid in racially segregated Virginia and its legacy as featured in his 1986 pop radio hit “The Way It Is.”

But what really struck me about Hornsby was his weird sense of humor. At the time he said he was working on some odd play involving a creep driving around. I know, weird. Just listen to his lyrics – closely – and there are some naughty things taking place. Not on all of them, just a few choice tracks.

Anyway, what we have in Bride of The Noisemakers is a solid collection of Hornsby standards – 25 songs on two discs – recorded with his five other “Noisemakers” between 2007 and 2009, at the end of which a studio album, Levitate, was released. There is no aforementioned “The Way It Is” or “Mandolin Rain” or “The Valley Road.” This is more jam oriented, I would expect, due to his stint playing with the Grateful Dead. Improvisational noodlings were their bread and butter, as it is with Hornsby. In fact, disc two closes out with a cover of the beautiful Dead ballad “Standing On the Moon” which segues into his song “Halcyon Days.”

But that’s just a small portion of what we get here. “Country Doctor” has Hornsby tickling the keys in a seemingly effortless way as JV Collier’s bass burbles beneath.

“Talk of the Town,” a jazzy pop number from his ’93 album Harbor Lights, shows Hornsby in a playful mood as he merges into “Charlie, Woody, N’ You.”

Hornsby’s soulful side comes out on the humorous “What the Hell Happened,” while a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” merges with his own “Fortunate Son” quite nicely.

From his days with The Range comes the ’88 track “Defenders of the Flag.” With Hornsby on accordion and some smokin’ sax from Bobby Read, there is a Heartland rock vibe at work here with Hornsby’s poke at small-town hypocrisy.

Side two is rife with jams aplenty. “The Wind Up / Big Rock Candy Mountain / Candy Mountain Run” kick things off in a big way. “Tango King” has a brassy, sassy power while the duclimer of “Shadow Hand” offers a rootsier, folk side of Hornsby.

Over the past 25 years that the pop music world has been familiar with Hornsby, it is interesting to hear a slight smokiness to Hornsby’s voice. Age and constant touring can take a toll but in Hornsby’s case it seems to have enhanced the heft to his delivery.

Bride of The Noisemakers shows off the professional skills of one of the best touring bands around – a mix of jazz, pop, soul and classical and a sampling of his ample catalogue. I hope next time Hornsby comes to town, he has some Noisemakers in tow.

Copyright 2011 The Norman Transcript

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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