Album Review :
Ravenhill - Soul

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Artist: Ravenhill
Title: Soul
Label: Slospeak Records
Release Date: 3/24/15
Reviewer: Scott Swan

 

Tracklisting

  1. You’ll Go Far Boy
  2. Witches
  3. Devil’s Son
  4. The Thrill
  5. Mercy
  6. Six Feet in the Ground
  7. Wicked Man
  8. Soul
  9. Den of Thieves
  10. Blood on the Church Floor

 

I had not been familiar with Ravehill’s music at all, and in all honesty, I wasn’t even sure what style of music they played. But, after giving a listen to their new record, Soul, I can whole heartily report that their sound is not just refreshing, but would even say it’s been a bit of a revelation for me. Because what I heard was some good ol’ gritty, bluesy rock ’n roll; the kind that seems to go directly from your ears to your ‘soul’. Ingrained into the sound is a back-porch, home spun quality, that just permeates honesty.  I wanted to find out what these guy where singing about, and I was prepared to follow those dirty guitar riffs wherever they wanted to take me.

The main driving force behind it all is leader singer Josh Clifton. His soulful voice spins the tales and just fits all the tunes perfectly. Clifton’s vocals are on display right off the bat with the opener “You’ll Go Far Boy.” It’s a tune with a familiar groove, sounding like something from The Raconteurs. Great way to set the stage of the album. 

“Witches,” starts slightly more reserved, but winds up becoming a rumbling romp. The song brings with it a stinging retort aimed at hypocritical Christians, who do things out of the wrong, selfish motivations. He did say in an interview on ‘The Antidote’ podcast, that much of this song was about the wrong he noticed in his own life. I believe the band does a great job of pulling of this message without being overly condemning. “Devils Son” and “The Thrill” continues the guitar driven goodness along with the vocals that just shape the tunes so well. 

“Mercy” and “Six Feet Under” bring in more of a laid back gospel sound, while still keeping the blues feel. “Wicked Man” is a cool track, largely composed of hand claps and foot stomps. I take it that the ‘wicked man’ in question is either the devil or the proverbial old man of his previous life before Christ. Whichever, it’s a great little break in the record that is cleverly done. 

The title track “Soul” is one of my favorites on the record and probably the hardest driving tune on the record as a whole. From the opening line “Good Lord, I need your mercy,” I was smitten with the way the music would occasionally drop out completely leaving Clifton’s voice alone to raise the tension. “Blood on the Church Floor” is a somber tune that seems to connect the real life violence that believers in the church have gone through because of their faith. It also mildly recalls Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” in certain spots. A great way to close things out.

Overall: This record remarkably melds music from a by-gone era into something surprisingly invigorating. This music is real. I simply love stuff that can easily be played in either a bar or a church, and this album definitely fits those requirements. It’s soulful and spiritual, while still being highly accessible. It’s been a long time coming (their last release was 4 years ago), but you can tell the band has really taken ownership of these songs and have a high level of comfort with them. I’ll be jamming to this for while, great work guys.

RIYL: The Raconteurs, , NEEDTOBREATHE, Jack White

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