Like Never Before –  Zubira (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

512KsNObGjL._SS500History is full of music which only became a hit upon its re-release. The Moody Blues, Guns’n’Roses, Eric Clapton, Meatloaf, even The Beatles have all released songs which only caught the public ear the second time around. Maybe the stars weren’t aligned, maybe the market wasn’t ready for it, maybe the PR powers that be were looking elsewhere for the next big thing, who knows? All it shows is that you can’t keep good music down, so the fact that Zubira’s Like Never Before was originally self-released on a modest budget a decade ago should be seen part of a peer driven, classic rock and roll pedigree.

Now polished up, remastered and with it’s inherent sonic dynamics brought to the fore to pave the way for a new album to follow, Like Never Before is in the public ear once more, and we should be thankful that it is as the ten songs that make it up are too good to be brushed under the carpet of musical history by the fickle broom of fashion and chance.
Zubira wear their influences firmly on their sleeve, intricate electric blues is driven by rock muscle but it is far cleverer than that as they blend wonderful keyboard textures and deft beats, pop accessibility and a whole bag of soulfulness through the songs. Whilst younger rockers with their skinny jeans and complicated hair, fashionable labels and carefully selected trainers worship before the gods of fame and celebrity, Zubira are happier just to serve the song and create the music. The result is, rather than just this week’s serving of throw away fusion rock, but instead mature and finely crafted music which weaves a path through 60’s blues revivals, 70’s classic rock, 80’s stadium excess, 90’s alternative options and on to this century’s post-everything openness.

Rockers such as Can I and The Rider blend Zeppelin-esque bite and atmospheres with more accessible, wider appeal melodics but the real charm comes from the less obvious and smarter sonic choices found here. The title track is a Santana style latin infused groove, Can’t Be Like You wanders into acoustic balladry, Never Mine is unashamedly pop and Say You Will tips its hat to sultry and sassy R&B, tugging nostalgic heartstrings whilst at the same time offering wonderful new horizons for the genre.

Bands that are hard to pin down easily are my favourite ones to write about, and whilst Zubira’s music is built from the same building blocks as everyone else, their ability to fashion appealing sonic architecture is impressive to say the least. It grooves, it rocks and it pops with equal effort, it talks of the usual lyrical matters of life, loss and love but seems to make it sound as if this has never been done before and it brings some wonderful originality to a genre which often seems to have found a commercial template that it just doesn’t want to let go of. I blame Joe Bonamassa!

Not only does Like Never Before deserve another day in the sun, another crack of the whip, another chance to reach the audience it deserves, even if it doesn’t blow up commercially, as a calling card for the next album it is more than enough to whet the appetite of the discerning music fan.

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