Ravenhill : Ladies and Gentlemen, I Present to You..
RATING: (10 out of 10) RELEASE DATE: August 20th, 2010 LABEL: Independent REVIEWED ON: February 11th, 2011 REVIEWED BY: Brian MorrissetteREVIEW
Ravenhill is a small “old time music” band that started out as a dream of one Mr. Joshua Clifton about ten years ago. He and his friends wanted to create old time R&B mixed with classic southern gospel music, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a glimpse into how Ravenhill got its start. Ladies and Gentlemen, I Present to You... was released a while back to not a whole lot of coverage, so I thought I would do a review for it since it was one of my favorite albums of 2010. Lately in my reviews I have not been going song by song, but this time I decided I would because of all the different elements and sound changes in every song.
“Oh Mercy!” gets this album started with a bang with Joshua Clifton’s voice sounding like an old soul singer along with some gospel choir backup vocals. Brady Clifton’s bass is super heavy on this song and dominates most of the guitar parts in this piece. The lyrics talk about asking God for mercy and forgiveness because we’re all only human. “Monster Eats Pilot” is an instrumental song that is like a jam session from years long gone. The song goes from slow and low snap and clap beats too fast and loud screaming guitars.
“Monster Eats Pilot” leads perfectly into the rock and roll anthem “Vanity." Joshua’s vocals come back into play with an edgy, soulful southern rock twang similar to--dare I say it--Lynyrd Skynyrd, mixed surprisingly with a little bit of a Bachman-Turner Overdrive tone. Jon Raby's crashing and rolling drums take up most of the music with the exception of a couple of chirps from the guitar section. The lyrics are a reference to the book of Ecclesiastes (NKJV) where the writer talks about how all man's works are in vain (vanity). (The definition of vanity [vain] is "futile and/or excessive pride in yourself and what you do.")
Up next is “Blood on the Church Floor," which is the most dramatic and moving song on this EP. For the most part this song is stripped down to a piano and an acoustic guitar until it gets to its soulful climax. Joshua’s vocals sound like they should be found in a southern gospel church in the 40’s or 50’s, and I say that in a super good way! This song is about something easily forgotten by the church and secular spheres, which is martyrdom. Martyrdom (martyr) is when people are being persecuted for their beliefs and are usually put to death because they won’t renounce their beliefs.
Note: There are about three different versions of this album: the first one had an acoustic version of “Blood on the Church Floor," the second one has the original four songs (Bandcamp), and the last one has a new live acoustic song “Witches” (iTunes).
Ravenhill has crafted a piece of pure awesomeness and genius, even with a low budget on the production side of things. The “thing” that set this album apart from the rest for me was the music that they play. The music on this album isn’t like what you hear from your normal Christian radio stations and labels or, for that matter, secular music. There isn’t a thing on this album that I could say is wrong or out of place; everything fits perfectly.
For fans of Garage Voice, Orion Walsh, and Buddy Guy.
Posted on: February 11th, 2011 PST By: Brian Morrissette