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About Time – Steve Winwood

Wincraft Music/SCI Fidelity

Popular several times over as an integral part of the Spencer Davis
Group, Traffic and Blind Faith, Steve Winwood hit paydirt on his own with
his
second solo effort, "Arc of a Diver." Subsequent releases followed an
increasingly
slick sonic road map of adult contemporary pop that became just as
successful.
His blue-eyed soul voice weaned on American R & B of the early '60s was
balanced by his interest in synthesizers and drum programming and thin
rhythms.

Winwood took a sabbatical from recording after the lukewarm reception to
1997's Junction Seven. At that time his musical formula seemed to
lose steam
creatively, and his audience dropped considerably from his late 1980s peak.

About Time gives a good indication that Winwood has rediscovered his
passion in the studio. The 11 tracks display that his muse has been
rekindled
through the energy produced by the Latin genre's staccato rhythms and the
approach of the jamband world, which gives many of the songs a loosely
vibrant feel.
The fusing of styles makes sense and could even be traced, to some degree,
to
what one hears within the songwriting and textures provided by bands such as
Widespread Panic and even the Allman Brothers.

This should not surprise those who follow Winwood's career closely. He
toured in 1998 with Tito Puente and Arturo Sandoval in a jazz project called
Latin Crossings, and even made some guest appearances with String Cheese
Incident
and Widespread Panic at last year's Bonnaroo Music Festival.

The opening track, "Different Light," exhibits this mixture in a potent
manner. The song's lyrics relate the transformation of someone who feels
reinvigorated by what he hears around him. "Cigano (For the Gypsies)" could
be
viewed as a missing Santana track minus Carlos' fiery guitar work. "Silvia
(Who Is
She?)" moves even closer in that direction with Jose Neto's guitar solo
spinning its magical web while an ominous background of organ and rhythm
section
settles in behind it.

Like many of the tracks on the album, these songs feature a dollop of
studio polish yet offer glimpses of the splendid energy it has in store
during a
live situation.

Throughout About Time Winwood plays the Hammond B-3 organ, which
served
him well, particularly during his stints in Spencer Davis and Traffic. I
love
the deep, robust sound the B-3 produces. Under his guidance, it pushes the
material to additional heights (i.e. "Bully" and "Phoenix Rising"). A brief
time
out from the festivities comes in the form of the ballad "Horizon."

But, like a circle that finds its beginning when it reaches the end,
"About Time" quickly revives itself over the final two numbers in ways that
reminded me why Winwood's latest musical stance was so interesting in the
first
place.

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