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Nine Lives
STEVE WINWOOD
Producer(s): Steve Winwood
Genre: ROCK
Label: Columbia
Steve Winwood has made a career out of offhanded excellence, quietly exploring an ambitious musical synthesis that occasionally connects with the pop mainstream, but more often floats in its own kind of rock muso universe. "Nine Lives" follows suit with a set whose nine songs display an ensemble sensibility that gives a generous allotment of sonic room to members of Winwood's band—especially flutist Paul Booth and percussionist Karl Vanden Bossche, whose polyrhythms percolate throughout. "Nine Lives" starts off with the gritty acoustic roots sound of the defiant "I'm Not Drowning," but "Fly" returns us to the airy, expansive kind of arrangement that Winwood does so well, and "Raging Sea" incorporates funky guitar licks and subtle Hammond organ fills. Recent concert partner Eric Clapton provides some stinging work on "Dirty City," while "Hungry Man" stirs in African flavors and "Secrets" heads in a Latin direction.—Gary Graff


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