The Union brings together two outstanding talents in British rock, and their debut album is suitably impressive. Featuring former Thunder guitarist Luke Morley and ex-Winterville frontman Peter Shoulder, it's a collaboration which benefits from a perfect pairing of youth and experience and, of course, the skills of two genuinely gifted songwriters. But anyone hoping for a new Thunder album - or even a new Winterville one, come to that - can think again.
Although based around a brand of bluesy hard rock which fans of both men will instantly recognise, The Union is more varied than anything previously recorded by either musician. It's a true collaboration, not merely two guys parachuting in with half a dozen pre-penned numbers at the eleventh hour. Creatively unshackled from former expectations, these are songs going where the wild winds blow, exploring ideas that have lain dormant, awaiting their moment.
That Morley almost single-handedly penned Thunder's entire catalogue is well known; we expect nothing less than quality from him. But for Shoulder, a guy still in his mid-20s, to be performing at this level already is nothing short of stunning. It's not just his rich, soulful voice - think David Coverdale meets Chris Cornell - it's his writing, which is up there with people twice his age, and more. That he has joined Eric Clapton and Peter Green as one of just three Brits to have bagged a WC Handy Blues Foundation award for The American Blues Song of the Year is almost as gob-smacking as how criminally overlooked the short-lived Winterville were.
Thunder lovers will undoubtedly appreciate up-tempo rockers such as Watch the River Flow, Step Up to the Plate and You Know My Name, but they're not even half the story. Whether turning their hand to the bluesy slow-burn of Black Monday and Amazon, adding a dash of Americana with Holy Roller and Come Rain or Shine or taking it way, way down with the ballads Saviour or This Time Next Year, this could well be the album of their collective careers.