The legendary UK band Reef comes charging back into the music world with their long-awaited new release “Revelation”. It has been an 18-year wait for a new studio album and on May 4th the wait is over for the band’s patience fans. “Revelation” is just that a display of the band’s prowess at using multiple influences to make engaging and alluring music. On “Revelation” the band utilized a wide palette of genres; hard rock, R&B, Gospel, Soul, Blues and Southern Rock then filtered them through the unlikely screen of British pop sensibilities.
Reef formed in the UK in 1993 a seminal year for rock music. The band was quickly signed to the Sony Label imprint S2. They released nine Top 40 singles the most famous being “Place Your Hands”- and four studio albums, including the platinum-selling No. 1 Album Glow. Constant touring wore the band down bring about their decision to take a hiatus in 2003. That did not mean the band members gave up on music but moved on to numerous solo and collaborative projects. Their hiatus came to an end in 2010, when they were tempted to go out on a short tour. In 2014 the long-standing line up of Gary Stringer on vocals, Jack Bessant on bass, Dominic Greensmith on drums and Kenwyn House on guitar, was changed up when House decided to leave the band. He was replaced by Jesse Wood, formerly of dad Ronnie Wood’s band/Faces/Red Racer.
Revelation was recorded in Ireland. The band worked on the songs for 2 ½ years, road testing all of the songs that were in consideration for inclusion while editing and adapting the tracks along the way. Returning to make Revelation a reality was Producer George Drakoulias, who has been a frequent past collaborator with the band, most notably on their album Glow. The band’s experience and enthusiasm for the project along with the reunion of long-standing comrades in the Reef orbit resulted in an exuberant return to form for the band.
The album kicks off with the title track a channelling of AC/DC stylings as Stringer delivers a ballsy vocal. This track is like an announcement that the band is as potent as ever and ready to go. The track My Sweet Love is another winner with the perfect utilization of a cameo appearance by Sheryl Crow whose vocals make for an excellent track. The gospel infused How I Got Over is also a singularly inspired creation. The track examines how to survive and keep the faith in long term relationships; it is a reflection on the importance of friendship and loyalty.
What follows after those emphatic opening tracks is a trio of ballads that pleasantly change up the tempo. Don’t Go Changing Your Mind is a potent ballad that hits all the right sentiments. Just Feel Love is more uptempo but again delivers what Reef does best, providing a satisfying hit of universal feelings over an inspired accompaniment. The final song of the trio First Mistake is jam packed with beautiful guitar riffs and melancholy Blues. After this trio, the release moves on with the clanging rockers Precious Metal and Ball and Chain. The grouping of the various musical stylings makes for songs that compliment each other without getting too carried away and shows a band who knows when to step on the gas and when to apply the break. This is seen again with the more Southern Rock/Blues inspired Oh Darling Come Home Soon and Lone Rider. These songs are definitely two of a pair. Where “Oh Darling” is more Altman Brothers/Lynard Skynard, “Lone Rider” is a convincing soundtrack for some yet unmade western.
The final track Like A Ship Without a Sail closes out the release with the message that you can survive hardships and all the challenges of life by remembering to maintain a firm grip, best accomplished by staying grounded. There is also the reminder to enjoy the rollercoaster of life because the ups and downs and how we handle them is how we are defined.
Reef with Revelation reminds us what amazing gifts the band has always possessed. On the new release the stellar arrangements bare witness to the abilities Reef has always had in spades. The utilization of fantastic backing vocals including, Sheryl Crow’s cameo appearance, harmonies and transcendent melodies are hooked to soul stirring rock displaying a band revitalized and ready to swing for the fences. Reef unfortunately fell down some kind of memory hole after they went into hiatus and seemed lost to the shifting sands of popular music. This album is a stellar reintroduction and a brilliant gateway into Reef’s glorious past discography and a positive omen for their future.