Steve Winwood makes comeback with new album
Steve Winwood has needed every one of the nine lives he alludes to in the title of his new CD.For a roughly 15-year chunk of his career, he seemed to have lapsed into a musical coma. From the mid '80s through the late '90s, Winwood released three morbid solo albums in a row, each calcifying the brand of MOR soul that gave him his biggest meal ticket, with hit albums like "Back in the High Life."
After the last two CDs bombed, Winwood finally got the message: He could no longer sleepwalk through barely average work and expect to connect. So, on 2003's aptly named "About Time," Winwood at last rescued his muse from the crypt, returning to the expansive and inspired sound he patented with his classic band Traffic back in their early-'70s peak.
For "Nine Lives," Winwood again mines the same rich mode. The disk offers another rash of organically paced tracks that filter Afro-pop, Brazilian samba and American idioms through the star's own erudite English sensibility. Winwood gets ace backing from his great road band - composed of musicians from four continents.Their rapport shows in the tracks' easy heat. The band's new riffs have the sexiness of jams, honed into the formality of song.
In "Hungry Man," a South African township jive guitar dances around harder rock rhythms. In "Dirty City," guest star Eric Clapton lays a tasteful British guitar-god lead over roiling Latin beats.Winwood's voice retains its choirboy resonance and spiraling wind power throughout the disk. His trademark Hammond B3 organ exudes tenderness and fire.
Despite all this, "Nine Lives" can't be called a pivotal Winwood album. It's too controlled, too tasteful and has too craftman-like for that. But it does offer an amiable and engaging example of a master back in his element. Source:nydailynews.com