Northern Ireland’s The Answer were once upon a time, a band hotly tipped for life at rock ‘n’ roll’s top table. In their infancy, they were so highly regarded that they were able to secure high-profile support slots with such heavyweights as Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Whitesnake. Opening for AC/DC in 2008/2009 on their massive Black Ice World Tour looked like the perfect platform to catapult them to mega-stardom.
The Answer – Sundowners (Golden Robot Records)
Release Date: 17 March 2023
Words: Brian Boyle
But that was never truly realised, and after 2016’s Solas album, the band went on to what would become a seven-year hiatus. Now back with album number seven, Sundowners, the County Down boys have that Celtic fire burning brightly again.
“We’ve been through a lot as a band,” Cormac Neeson said. “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.”
Helping them kickstart chapter two in their career is the much sought-after producer Dan Weller whose impressive workouts with the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Monster Truck and Enter Shikari has seen his stock rise, and he’s lived up to his reputation on this eleven-track whopper. And what a way to announce your return than with the magnificent title track emanating their inner Zeppelin, swiftly followed by the biblical stomp of Blood Brother.
Seven years is a long time in rock ‘n’ roll. The Beatles formed, conquered the world and beyond with the most resonating music you’ll ever hear, then buggered off. For The Answer, that same timescale wasn’t as grandiose. After half a dozen album releases and globetrotting with Rock royalty, a full-on reset was required.
On the rejoicing California Rust, their always engaging lead singer Cormac Neeson sounds rebaptised as he pulls heartfelt notes from all angles. The reboot continues with a shuffling Oh Cherry and the sweet redemption of No Salvation, a tune packed with a Southern soul and not one ounce of pretension.
Sundowners is an album weighed down with hefty riffs driven by the sublime Paul Mahon. By no means a flashy shredder, his simplistic approach provides sturdy foundations on the hook-laden Livin On The Line and the shape-throwing Get Back On It.
Cormac Neeson was quoted as saying, “we’re back and ready to bring you our best album ever.” Guess what? He’s bloody right. Sundowners is a tour de force return for The Answer.