Steve Winwood

Junction Seven

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Steve Winwood teams up with producer Narada Michael Walden, and the result is a fine, multi-textured disc. Winwood's calling card has always been his gritty, soulful voice, and he uses it to good effect on tunes like "Spy in the House of Love." The tune opens things up with a bang--it's an up-tempo, funky jam about falling under the influence of that powerful emotion.

The album continues with gospel-tinged ballads ("Angel of Mercy"), well-turned covers (Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair), and even a Cuban-inflected piece ("Got to Get Back to My Baby"). On the latter, Winwood employs some top-flight Cuban musicians, including percussionist Walfredo Reyes, and pianist, co-arranger Rebecca Mauleon-Santana. The tune is a real highlight, and defines some welcome new ground for Winwood -- he's come a long way from The Spencer Davis Group and "Gimme Some Lovin' ". All in all, a fine effort from an artist who keeps his musical gift well-tuned and his ear to the ground for new influences.

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