20 Oct 2021
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Ravenhall - EP Review: The Coming Storm

21 Sep 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Ravenhall were formed by guitarist Joe Ravenhall and singer Chris Brebner in 2015. They were both already veterans of the Auckland scene, and wanted to perform music which concentrated on the power of acoustic guitar, wonderful vocals, plus some gentle electronic backing, and that is certainly what we have here. Right from the first notes I was hugely impressed, which got me wondering what else the guys may have done, as I was convinced there must be a huge catalogue I was missing out on, so I jumped over to Spotify to have a look. There are some more tracks there, and the one which stood out straight away was King of Wishful Thinking, and as soon as I saw that, this EP made even move sense, as while I had already picked up on the likes of Steve Earle, Marc Cohn and Steve Knightley as influences, the missing element was Go West.

There is something about an acoustic guitar and vocals, which to my mind it is one of the purest forms of music there is, with no room for anyone to hide. When combined with good material and strong production it can be an incredibly powerful emotional experience, and that is certainly what we have here. Based around Joe and Chris, the band is completed by drummer Damian Hilt and bassist Jake Love, with these guys understanding that it is often won’t they don’t play as much as what they do which makes the difference. This means we have arrangements which keep Chris always to the fore, providing support but never dominating his voice, but providing the contrast and dynamics to lift it even further. This is particularly true of Too Far Away, where the full band are involved, with Joe even giving us some delicate Chris Rea/David Gilmour style electric, and Chris allowing some roughness to come into his voice.

Opening track Love Like That is the highlight, with the guitar and vocals emphasized by some gentle keyboards and female backing vocals. It commences gently with picked acoustic and plenty of vocal reverb, but as the song builds it becomes more dramatic, until Joe is riffing, and Chris is starting to push. This is one of those songs which hits the listener within the first few seconds, yet just continues to develop. Jake and Damian are in for the second verse, an electric guitar comes in near the end of the chorus, and although the song drops in emphasis for each verse, it is always at a higher level than it was previously. Towards the end this song has become huge, with a massive sound and dynamics, and then it suddenly drops away to what it was at the beginning. Not only is this a wonderful song, with great hooks, but it has a superb arrangement.

The only issue with this four-track EP is simply that, it is an EP., there is not a week song to be heard, with every one of them a gem. I am so looking forward to hearing a full album from these guys, but until then, this EP is simply essential.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Ravenhall

With passionate acoustic guitar driven songs and evocative storytelling, New Zealand’s Ravenhall speaks directly to listener’s hearts. By embracing an experimental electronic edge, they push the boundaries of traditional singer/songwriter music to create a sound that is wholly authentic and unique.

Founding members Joe Ravenhall and Chris Brebner are both veterans of Auckland’s music scene, with several years of history collaborating on a variety of projects. With Ravenhall they sought to embrace the emotional lyricism and open hearted melodies that drew them to music in the first place. After writing over a hundred songs together, they recruited Damian Hilt on drums and Alan Treanor on the bass, each one bringing their own dynamic personality to fill out the band’s sound.

After spending many years performing together across New Zealand, Ravenhall made their official debut in 2015 with the release of their single Everything To Me. From there they went on to release a series of singles expanding on their signature sound while continuing to build an audience in their home country. Currently the band is working on a new EP which will introduce their intricately crafted songwriting to new listeners in New Zealand and beyond.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ravenhall

Releases

Wild Hearts
Year: 2020
Type: EP
Straight Up
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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