04 October 2019 (released)
01 October 2019
It’s amazing to think that Nine Below Zero have been around for forty years but they started out in 1979 and they have been a favourite on the Blues and R&B scene all that time.
‘Avalanche’ is a bit of a departure for them, the band has expended to eight permanent members and they are now playing a fulsome and soulful Blues as well as their raw British R&B. I would say that they are as relevant as ever and I have to say that I enjoyed the heck out of the new album.
At the heart of the lineup is Dennis Greaves on vocals and guitar & Mark Feltham on harmonica. Greaves son Sonny on drums, Dave Boraston (trumpet), Tom Monks on keyboards, Charlie Austen on lead and backing vocals, Ben Wills on bass and Chris Rand on sax make up the rest of the band and I have to say that the new lineup really gives Greaves and Austen’s songs a greater range and power.
Greaves says of the new lineup: “The chemistry of the whole band really made this record. Having the younger members on it definitely gave it energy, and a female vocalist added colour. Tom Monks reminds me of a young John Mayall, he’s got immense talent. I was initially worried about Sonny, nepotism and all that, but he really bought some great ideas to the table.”
Wayne Proctor was pulled in to produce and mix the album and, as usual, he has created a clean and wide soundstage where every note and harmonic is captured perfectly.
The music swings and the horns give the sound more depth but, as usual, it is the songs that are the real strength of the band and they’ve managed a few that should become fan favourites in time to come.
As relevant as ever, the songs all have the touch of living in the UK in 2019 – no overt politicising but no bland love songs either.
‘Ter Wit Ter Woo’ with Charlie on lead vocals has a great sense of rhythm, the horns punctuating her vocals and Greaves simple acoustic guitar works just fine. The instrumental ‘Hey Siri (Go ---- Yourself) has a funky edge to it and between the horns and the harmonica really grabs an Average White Band groove.
The groove continues with ‘Picture No Sound’ featuring Feltham’s harp and Greaves vocals.
My favourite track is probably ‘Austerity Blues’ with some grand guitar from Greaves snr and a howling harp solo from Mark Feltham.
Nine Below Zero feel as though they have always been there and on this form, they always will be.