The Answer is a blues-rock band from Newcastle and Northern Ireland U.K.. They have achieved success with their debut album Rise selling in excess of 30,000 copies in the UK & Europe and 100,000 worldwide.
Ten years, five albums and thousands of shows later, The Answer returned home from the last date of their 2015 US Raise A Little Hell tour to a scene of utter emotional chaos. Staring into a financial and creative abyss, matters escalated further when main lyricist and lead singer Cormac Neeson disclosed that he wondered if he could bring himself to ever create anything again let alone pen a new record.
Guitarist Paul Mahon recalls, “It led to us all going our separate ways for a while, and while this happens after every tour this time it had a different tone. There were voices inside whispering, ‘would we ever play together again?’”
Fortunately, they did and came up with Solas. It’s an honest and brave album that panders to no label, to no media framework, and to no rules. The Answer have gone back to grass roots, regressed to their inner selves. Perhaps as a result of Neeson’s personal circumstances; perhaps from the constant pressure to develop and survive; perhaps borne from a frustration that has empowered them to stick two fingers up to their rock ‘n’ roll straight jacket, they are now embarked upon a new and exciting journey having been through the darkest period in their relatively brief rock history.
So onto the review: The first track is “Solas” which starts off really dark and moody and slowly builds. There is some fantastic vocal work on this. “Beautiful World” is next and again has a dark sounding intro with strong lyrics which then kicks into a great chorus.
“Battle Cry” is a lovely song with a great blues feeling. A really soulful track which leads to “Untrue Color” rocking things up a little with this really catchy number that has some awesome harmonies on it.
“In this Land” has a lovely guitar intro and again is really soulful track which would be amazing live with its brilliant guitar solo. “Thief of Light” follows, a slower song but has a lovely feeling to it. “Being Begotten” has a fabulous intro and we are again into this deep, moody, blues sound. Very 70’s sounding, you can hear The Who and Led Zeppelin influences.
“Left Me Standing” gets us rocking again with great riffs and piercing vocals. It’s a great song, more like what I was expecting. “Demon Driven Man” is another great blues track, lots of tip top musicianship here.
“Real Life Dreamers” has a great duet which is superb again. A real gem this album. The last track is “Tunnel”, a fitting way to finish this album of many twists and turns.
Ok how to sum this album up, it’s not like their other records. This is a brave attempt for this band to let loose and try something new. A lot of dark moody songs although the last half of the record is much more upbeat and along what you may expect. If you like blues and rock with some great vocals this is for you, you won’t hear anything like this all year. It’s really refreshing to hear an album with so many turns. Catch them on tour later in November in the U.K. with The Dead Daisies.
Mark 8.5 out of 10
Colin “Starchild” Francis