Ravenhill is a small blues / R&B band out of the Midwest that has been making a name for themselves by opening for such big name indie acts like Company of Thieves and The Whigs, among many others. They released a demo early last year called Ladies and Gentlemen, I Present to You... I gave this album a 5-star rating, so to say that I wasn’t beyond stoked for this album would be a lie. The question in my mind was whether this album was going to hold up to their tremendous first release. Well you’ll have to read on to find out.
One thing which plagued their first effort was the poor production quality. This time round, even if it was recorded live, the sound quality is 100% better.
In an interview that I did with lead singer Joshua Clifton earlier this year, he said, I have been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin The Black Keys and the Raconteurs so you can expect something a little more raw but it’s honest.” This statement proves true almost instantly upon listening to the first song “Wicked Man.” Another thing that I picked up immediately was that there is a definite Manchester Orchestra influence all throughout this album. This mixes perfectly with the R&B sound which has become a signature element of Ravenhill. The horn section that was so prevalent on LaGIPtY has all but been replaced by gritty “hard” rock guitar riffs. I don’t think having the horns as much on this album hurts it at all; on the contrary I think it brings a whole new unique feel to this album.
Joshua’s vocals are better than ever. They greatly benefited from the better production found on this album. His vocals seem a lot less soulful but with more grit in them. This grittiness complements the rest of the music well.
The lyrics on Lions can be a little confusing and overdone but do have their bright spots mind you. The song that sticks out for me lyrically is “The Stranger ” though not in the way you’d think. This song throws me right back to the days of Led Zeppelin and Kiss when songs weren’t meant to be deep. They did however figure out a way to make the songs feel deep and important.
This 28-minute EP has its fair share of ups and downs. That is to be expected from such a new band. But one thing that makes me consistently come back to this album is for the music and awesome guitar riffs. While Lions may lack some of the brass and harmonics of Ladie sand Gentlemen I Present to You… It’s still in its own right a very credible album worth taking the time to check out.
4/5 Stars: Best Rock n’ Roll album to come out this year.
1. Wicked Man 3/5
2. Youngblood 4/5
3. The Shakes 3/5
4. Lema Ray 4/5
5. Hounds 4/5
6. The Stranger 5/5