In a period where a resurgence in bands from the 1990’s are making a comeback, the question to be asked is: “do rockers Reef still have what it takes?” The simple answer is a huge resounding “Yes!”. Returning with their first album in 18 years, ‘Revelation’ sees the West Country boys return with a new confidence, a swampy alt. country sound, and a new guitarist in Jesse Wood.
If you’re a fan of the classic Reef (‘Place Your Hands’, ‘Naked’, ‘Come Back Brighter’ etc…) then you won’t be disappointed. The opening title track ‘Revelation’, ‘Ball And Chain’ and live favourite ‘Just Feel Love’ will more than quench your thirst for pure rock n roll. Coming back after a huge gap into a new musical landscape is no mean feat, but bringing along a subtle country vibe crossed with a surprising element of gospel is a brilliant choice.
‘Don’t Go Changing Your Mind’ and recent single, a duet with Sheryl Crow, ‘My Sweet Love’ will win over new fans with a more American Country taste, whereas ‘Provide’ and ‘How I Got Over’ bring in the gospel vibes. Across the whole album, the one thing that stands proud is the quality of frontman Gary Stringer’s vocals. Sliding effortlessly from a rock god in one moment through to a soul crooner in the next is just divine.
Rhythm section Jack Bessant (Bass) and Dominic Greensmith (Drums) become the pounding heart of the record as it flows effortlessly bathed in a hint of summertime – perfect for those long sunny days catching waves. Jesse Wood is the new boy in town having taken over from former guitarist Kenwyn House adds a new dynamic to the overall Reef sound without stepping on the toes of his predecessor. The added blues element is even inspired from his Dad, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.
As the album begins to draw to an end, there is a slight sense of nostalgia washing over. Although different in sound to the rest of their catalogue, you cannot help but feel impressed with this as a comeback. ‘Lone Rider’ paints the image of an old Western movie, whilst closing track ‘Like A Ship (Without A Sail)’ is a gorgeous and harmonious ode to self development. As the final notes play, you find yourself automatically reaching for the replay button.
Overall, this is an astonishing album to ‘Come Back Brighter’ and one that has very much been worth the wait to ‘Place Your Hands’ on. With the added support growing from the mainstream media, this should see the boys pick up where they left off nearly two decades ago. In a world full of an ever growing hip-hop and dance-pop artists, a pure rock n roll band is what we need. Welcome back Reef!