Bruce Hornsby, the ’80s-vintage hitmaker and Grateful Dead collaborator, is riding a nice little career wave right now. Earlier this year, Hornsby released his album Absolute Zero, which features contributions from Bon Iver mastermind Justin Vernon, as well as associated musicians like Sean Carey and Brad Cook. It’s a lush, pretty album that helps reveal what an influence Horsby’s expansive and sentimental sound was on people like Vernon. And last night, Hornsby played one of its songs on Kimmel.
On that Kimmel stage, Hornsby and his backing band the Noisemakers — who don’t actually seem to make all that much noise — played “Cast-Off,” the first single from Absolute Zero. Hornsby recorded the song with Justin Vernon and his buddies, with Hornsby and the Bon Iver mastermind trading melodic ideas in Vernon’s Wisconsin studio. And while that contemplative sound makes full use of the studio, Hornsby and his band are perfectly capable of recreating its majesty in a live setting.
Absolute Zero is out now on Zappo Productions. If you liked that performance, check out Hornsby’s solo-piano Stereogum Session here.