The Answer – Sundowners
Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 17/03/23
Running Time: 43:07
Review by Paul Hutchings
It’s been a long time. Seven years on hiatus, and a day that many feared would never happen is looming large. The return of Northern Ireland’s The Answer, with their brand-new album “Sundowners”. If ever there was an example of a band who were always on the verge of greatness, it’s probably The Answer. Formed in 2000, the band were hailed as the best new band by Classic Rock magazine in 2005, not long after the release of their debut album “Rise”. A tour with AC/DC on their “Black Ice” tour in 2008/9 seemed the perfect springboard to launch the band into the stratosphere. Live they were virtually untouchable, and yet despite solid albums in “New Horizon”, 2015’s “Raise A Little Hell” and their most recent release, 2016’s “Solus”, the band hit a metaphorical wall. The hiatus has allowed them to regroup, deal with family joy and sorrow, and return to the studio in April 2022 for the first time since 2015.
Singer Corman Neeson. “We’ve been through a lot as a band, toured the world, made six great records we’re all proud of, and always done our best to make honest and timeless music that connects with rock and music fans in general. After six albums and a lot of road miles we felt we needed to step back from it all and reset. Whilst that wasn’t an easy decision, with retrospect it’s possibly the best decision we’ve ever made because after seven years away we all came back fired up and the end result is an album we’ve been waiting to make our whole lives…full of good time rock n roll and positive energy created by four brothers who quite frankly just really missed each other. We’re back and we’re ready to bring our best album ever to you!”
First impressions are good. The title track is moody, a six-minute statement that The Answer are back. Their traditional, Blues-soaked style very much in evidence. A first spin through the release is reassuring. The Answer are in form, with each of the component parts working collectively. Neeson’s Plant-esque delivery remains pleasingly smoky. His range is as good as ever. Paul Mahon’s guitar playing brings that old-time swagger whilst the rhythm section of Waters and Heatley is locked tight. Everything sounds tight, yet natural and organic. “Sundowners” isn’t an album that’s been forced.
But let’s backtrack through the album a little. ‘Sundowners’ isn’t your usual bombastic opener. It begins with an almost Western vibe before Waters’ bass lays down the beat, Mahon shimmers over the top of the building tempo and Neeson comes in with his understated tones. Mahon’s slide work is fantastic, the beat continues, and this sounds every inch a signal of confidence. It takes balls to open with a six-minute track that veers away from their more mainstream sound and The Answer have proved they have big ones. This has a magical echo and vibe.
‘Blood Brothers’ is more The Answer of old. A big stomping song, Neeson’s allowed to let go and the whole band just jumps along. It’s anthemic, with a delicious hook and switch of pace. The tempo changes direction completely on ‘California Rust’, which benefits from some thick Hammond organ which gives the song great depth. This one is going to be a cracker live, with its Deep Purple feel.
The Answer have always drawn deep on their gospel tendencies and ‘Want You to Love Me’ sees them back in that glorious style with female backing singers and more lush keyboards. ‘Oh Cherry’ brings in harmonica, a thumping, driving bass line and another earworm. It’s hard to be unimpressed by the Northern Ireland quartet on this form. ‘No Salvation’ drops back to the band’s bluesy roots, with Neeson allowed space to really use that magnificent voice to full potential. It’s a laid back, chilled song that demonstrates the versatile nature of the band. It contrasts with ‘Cold Heart’ that follows, another classically crafted song that grabs you with its energy and vibrancy.
There’s an excitement here as you listen, for these songs should fit neatly alongside staples in the live show. There’s more to come though, with the groove of ‘All Together’, the triumphant Rock ‘n’ Roll stomp of ‘Livin’ on the Line’, which is sure to tear a hole in those summer festivals, and the Zeppelin/Royal Blood edged ‘Get back on It’ all propelling the band along with style. Of course, it wouldn’t be right to have an album by The Answer which doesn’t contain at least one more gentle song and closing track ‘Always Right’ is just the one. A beautifully crafted semi-acoustic finale, it’s the perfect song to bring the album to a close.
“Sundowners” is not only a fabulous piece of work, but also a sign of hope. My heart dipped when the band went on hiatus, and it skipped a beat when I heard the band were back in the studio. It hasn’t disappointed and the forthcoming tour with Oli Brown in support will only cement the experience. It’s a huge welcome back.
‘Livin’ On The Line’ Official Video
02. Blood Brothers
03. California Rust
04. Want You to Love Me
06. No Salvation
07. Cold Heart
08. All Together
09. Livin’ on the Line
10. Get Back on It
11. Always Right
Cormack Neeson – Vocals
Paul Mahon – Guitars
Mickey Waters – Bass
James Heatley – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.