Steve Winwood’s latest album follows the direction of his previous record About Time: It tackles Afro/Latin funk and jazzy rhythms while it also at times recalls the progressive leanings of Traffic. In other words, stylistically it’s far removed from his mega-pop ‘80s successes, which is a good thing. Aside from the gritty and rock driven “Dirty City,” featuring guitar from old friend Eric Clapton, album is somewhat spiritual uplifting through tracks like “Fly,” “I’m Not Drowning,” and “Other Shore.” Winwood is still in strong soulful voice and his Hammond organ playing remains signature; the music’s sound is also dominated by the excellent musicianship of guitarist Jose Piress de Almeida Neto and percussionist Karl Van den Bossche. While the grooves tend to repeat themselves after a while, Nine Lives nevertheless is a fine introspective and wistful album.
A video of Steve Winwood on the release of Nine Lives: