CD Review: 13 Shades of Blue by Nine Below Zero

13 Shades of Blue - Nine Below Zero

13 Shades of Blue - Nine Below Zero - Credit: Archant

(Zed Records)

The strength and weakness of blues music is its irrepressible familiarity. You know where you are with the blues, and it’s so hard to find material which both captures the spirit and verve of the genre, but is also new and challenging.

Enter Nine Below Zero, who have been doing the rounds for almost 40 years, but still manage to offer something different in their material, as evidenced in this latest album, which was debuted at Glastonbury earlier this year.

The notes might be the same, but the performance is fresh and exciting, as dark and dangerous as a crossroads at midnight, tinged with a touch of white soul and a nod to the still-missed greats of yesteryear thanks to the addition of a horn section, keyboards and violin.

This latest project is a bid to bring together a cross-section of different styles which come under the labels of blues and r’n’b, a mix of rare songs drawn from across the genre’s spectrum but given that unique NHZ flavour.

So even if the tracks which appear on this album are ones you’ve heard before, chances are you’ve never heard them performed like this, as they are brought back to life by a band which is still happy to take chances despite playing together across five different decades.