Spirit Trail is a portrait of unchecked self-indulgence; its tracks, with their overly busy arrangements, go on too long, not to mention the extended instrumental piano interludes that suddenly pop up here and there and, for example, the two versions of "Preacher in the Ring," with different music and lyrics, neither of them very interesting. Musically and lyrically, Bruce Hornsby is badly in need of an editor. The music should be cut, and the lyrics to these story songs should be streamlined -- often they do not sit well on the music--- and clarified -- it's usually difficult to tell exactly what he's singing about. But none of this is to criticize Hornsby as a player. He may feel compelled to display his picture ID from his days at the Berklee College of Music in the CD booklet, but nobody has ever questioned his technical ability. Maybe, however, it's time for him to go all the way into instrumental jazz or new age music. If the lyrics to the album-closing "Swan Song" are any indication, he has some changes in mind, and not a moment too soon. It's hard to imagine that a major label is going to continue to subsidize records like this for the pop market much longer.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
feat: Jerry Garcia