In the mail the other day was a note asking, essentially, “Will you help us spread the word about a new album by Steve Winwood?”
Sure, why not? I’ve long enjoyed Winwood’s work, especially with Traffic in the ’70s and then as a solo performer. It’s elegant, graceful, thoughtful and intelligent, then and now.
Winwood’s new album, due out April 29, is “Nine Lives.” The single they’ve released to promote it is “Dirty City,” on which old pal Eric Clapton joins Winwood.
That’s no coincidence, because Winwood and Clapton are playing three sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden next week. Almost 40 years ago, they played there with Blind Faith. It was opening night of the band’s one and only tour — July 12, 1969.
It’s difficult to assess an entire album on the basis of one cut, but “Dirty City” shows promise.
The sounds are familiar — Winwood’s voice soaring over his Hammond B-3 organ, plenty of laid-back percussion and, of course, Clapton’s guitar providing a sharp edge where needed. I’d have to agree with a comment posted on iTunes and say this cut sounds more like Traffic than Winwood’s solo work. Whether the other cuts do, I can’t say.
The other eight cuts on the album: “I’m Not Drowning,” “Fly,” “Raging Sea,” “We’re All Looking,” “Hungry Man,” “Secrets,” “At Times We Do Forget” and “Other Shore.”
Here’s how the publicists describe them:
“Each of the nine tracks on the aptly-titled ‘Nine Lives’ paints a musical portrait of spiritual transformation as Winwood continues the exploration of soul, rock, blues and world music.”
It’s been five years since Winwood last released an album. He’s touring to support “Nine Lives,” so you’ll have a chance to see him if you’re so inclined. Winwood is opening all summer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on a tour that begins May 31 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
But enough talk. Listen and decide for yourself.
“Dirty City,” Steve Winwood, from “Nine Lives,” 2008.