Whatever other criticisms may be advanced of Bruce Hornsby, it is clear from the credits of Halcyon Days
, Hornsby's ninth album, that he is utterly unconcerned by his reputation as a purveyor of mercilessly tasteful middle-of-the-road rock for mortgage-paying grown-ups: Sting duets on the Dylanesque opening track "Gonna Be Some Changes Made", Elton John sings on "Dreamland", and lead guitar on three tracks is contributed by Eric Clapton, who also sings on "Candy Mountain Run". In fairness to Hornsby, he does not shy from acknowledging his arrival in middle-age: the Randy Newman pastiche "What The Hell Happened" is a wry and funny reflection on growing old.
Hornsby's previous album, "Big Swing Face", was notable for a relative lack of Hornsby's signature piano. As if to compensate, Halcyon Days, returns the instrument to star billing, especially on "Hooray for Tom" and "Heir Gordon", which hardly feature any other instruments both are sprightly, sarcastic tracks that also evoke Randy Newman. Most of Halcyon Days, however, sees Hornsby's piano and vocals woven into the familiar glossy textures that made his name. "Mirror on the Wall", in particular, has the ring of an inescapable radio hit about it. --Andrew Mueller