Winwood has over his long career been associated with landmark and legendary bands - the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith - and enjoyed a successful solo career. He invested his music with not only a remarkable and signature vocal style, but the sound of the Hammond B-3 organ.
And it is that instrument which is at the forefront of his latest solo disc, released on his own label, on which world beat and rock influences combine. With a core band of Jose Neto on guitar and Walfredo Reyes, Jr., on drums, plus guest musicians on flute, saxophone, and percussion, Winwood recorded the CD live in the studio.
The disc's 11 tracks, all but one written or co-written by Winwood, kick off in vibrant, Latin-tinged, and percussive style with “Different Light,” the B-3 prominent in the mix and Winwood in great voice. On “Cigano (For The Gypsies)” rock and world influences co-exist, the song starting and ending as a rocker with a subtly funky edge, but with the mid-portion taking on a Brazilian beat.
Winwood gives the disc balance by mixing other vibrant and rhythmic pieces with slower cuts such as “Final Hour” and the compelling ballad “Horizon,” that features a strong melody and perhaps his best vocal performance.
“About Time” signals a productive and exciting new musical direction for Winwood.
- RICHARD PATON
The Eels are back with a disc's worth of oddball characters, lovable losers, and more pop hooks than a Beatles tribute band. The band is essentially a vehicle for Mark Oliver Everett, also known as “E,” who wrote and arranged all the songs and produced the disc. E has a remarkable knack for bright melodies that are tempered with his worn voice and tilted view of the world. He writes mature pop songs with dark circles under their eyes.
- ROD LOCKWOOD
Vincent, an incredibly talented mandolin player and singer, performs a truly fine package of 12 bluegrass songs, all deeply rooted in traditional sounds, but fresh and very modern-feeling. The instrumental work by Vincent and others is positively dazzling, as the fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo are all handled with amazing dexterity. The songs run the gamut from spicy pickin' grass to wistful ballads, most with Vincent's sweet, twangy voice leading the way.
- KEN ROSENBAUM
When you take the rock music of Beck Hansen, the soul jazz organ of Dr. Lonnie Smith, and the tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, it's hard to figure out how the results might not be totally electrifying. But that seems to be what's happening on this latest tribute album. When arranged by guitarist Doug Munro, the soul gives way to smoothness and the bite usually associated with this style of jazz is missing.
- LARRY ROBERTS
This soundtrack is Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman's first score for an animated feature film. Unfortunately, it shows. It's technically fine with its near-classical grace and ebullient flow. But the overall product is flat, because it fails to grab listeners with a special magical quality and spark found in the soundtracks to other Pixar films, such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.
- TOM HENRY