18 years have passed since Reef released their last studio album Getaway. The album was followed by greatest hits set Together, The Best Of… in 2003 and it wasn’t until 2014 that we heard from the band again. They released single Barking at Trees followed in 2016 by How I Got Over. Two years on the band is back with almost the original line-up – Ronnie Woods’ son Jesse has joined the line-up as their guitarist replacing Kenwyn House – and they got a new album Revelation.
Perhaps best-known for their hit Place Your Hands, released in 1996, Reef are attempting to reinvent themselves with Revelation. The rockier lean the band has always had is still present throughout the record but they’ve taken a surprisingly more soulful and bluesy approach to the record. The closest they come to their signature sound is on album opener, and title track, Revelation, which is a balls-out rock moment designed to make you take notice and remember why you loved the band in the first place.
Teaming up with longtime collaborator George Drakoulias, Reef push their sound into new areas across Revelation. My Sweet Love, an unexpected duet with Sheryl Crow, borrows more of Crow’s sound than it does Reef’s repositioning the band in a softer way as acoustic guitar drives the melody. Surprisingly it works and I can imagine the track appearing on Crow’s recent album.
Revelation features three cover versions including a surprising but effective rendition of Mahalia Jackson’s How I Got Over. The gospel track takes a lo-fi approach and it pushes Reef completely out of their comfort zone. It was also the song that paved the way for this new album and the band’s return to music. The other covers are Darling Be Home Soon, originally by The Lovin’ Spoonful, and Like a Ship (Without a Sail), originally recorded by Pastor TL Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir.
Elsewhere on the album Reef try out a variety of sounds. Provide features a very soulful vocal from Gary Stringer, Don’t Go Changing Your Mind is one of the album’s more stripped-back moments, and Just Feel Love is stirring rock number that’s one of the standout moments on the record. First Mistake recalls early hit Consideration and it showcases the versatility of Stringer’s voice, which seems to have changed a fair amount since the 90s.
Revelation is an interesting record and there’s plenty to dig into. For me it falls short of the band’s 90s heyday but I commend them for doing something different. Stringer’s voice is really built for those rousing rock anthems Reef is known for but this more soulful approach shows another side to his abilities. Revelation is a slow burn of a record and I have a feeling it’s one that will connect better in a live environment. Still, it’s a welcome return for one of our most under-rated rock bands.
Track listing: 1. Revelation 2. My Sweet Love (feat Sheryl Crow) 3. Provide 4. How I Got Over 5. Don’t Go Changing Your Mind 6. Precious Metal 7. Just Feel Love 8. Ball and Chain 9. First Mistake 10. Darling De Home Soon 11. Lone Ride 12. Like a Ship (Without a Sail) Record label: earMUSIC Release date: 4th May 2018