REVIEW: THE ANSWER – “Solas”
When you’ve spent your youth listening to the classics, there is a certain sense of mysticism and grandeur you associate with that sound. That sound being hard-rocking blues. That is what The Answer brings to us in the latter half of 2016. Formed by guitarist Paul Mahon in 2000, The Answer is an Irish hard-rock band that captures the classic sound and adds in a layer of atmosphere and awe to their sound that is fresh and gallant. They rose to fame with their debut effort called ‘Rise’ and have consistently put out strong records. Their latest offering called ‘Solas’ is no exception.
The title track opens the album with a definitive groove and instantly I am reminded of Tool. The lyrical expression is personal and very relatable. I like the fact that the guitars are there to support and do not over power any other instruments. The bass work on this song is commendable and the chorus just sets the tone for the rest of the record. The singer Cormac Neeson sounds like a combination between Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and James Maynard Keenan (Tool) balancing soaring highs and melodic lows. “Beautiful World” carries forward a somber mood, which is unsurprising considering it was written with Massive Attack collaborator, Neil Berridge.
“Battle Cry” is one of those rare uplifting tracks that is sure to be a crowd favorite. I’d say it is one of the best feel-good songs of 2016. The Gaelic chanting on the chorus is like a cherry on top of the cake. “Untrue Colour” is a synth-heavy number, straight out of the early 80s. “In This Land” sounds like I am driving down the old country road, stopping by in pubs and drinking a pint before moving to a different town. This will give Blake Shelton a run for his money. “Thief of Light” marks the half-way point for this record and would be one of the songs I’d expect the band to play half way through their live set. It’s a slow-moving number, but has a meditative vibe that is relaxing and soothing.
“Being Forgotten” took me back right to the Blues that’s being played on a ranch in the heart of Texas. It is another one of the slow moving number and has a lot of room for bluesy leads to come in and shine on this track. “Left Me Standing” has Thin Lizzy written all over it with twin guitars noodling about and a huge chorus about one-sided love. “Demon Driven Man” is another southern-rock anthem, that has Led Zeppelin influence all over it and another number that should be played in a pub down in Austin. “Real Life Dreamers” is a big old bluesy ballad with the female vocals rendered by Fiona O’Kane. The album closes with “Tunnel” , an acoustic number that ties everything together and gives the listener an easy return to reality out of this dream world of southern rock.
‘Solas’ is quite a courageous effort full of big ideas and tightly woven songs and enchanting choruses. I am sure the members spent time on each song, crafting it to what it is. On multiple listens, one begins to appreciate the subtleties and all of it sounds clear courtesy an amazing production.