The 2:19, Revelator
Revelator has great resonance in blues tradition – it’s a traditional call and response gospel blues song, made famous by Blind Willie Johnson and Son House and covered by a huge number of artists.
This may not be the version of the song you find on this terrific blues album by Belfast band The 2:19, but it’s a fitting name for the album, which delves deep into the blues tradition, albeit with thirteen original songs, and echoes of biblical apocalypse in songs like Abandon Hope, All Kinds of Evil and, of course, the title track, Revelator.
You’d scarcely think it from the assured song-writing and performances here, but this is a new band, formed just pre-pandemic as a covers band. Against all the odds, the sextet quickly found its song-writing mojo and has given us a rare treat of a blues album.
The musicianship is top-notch, the songs are all strong, and the arrangements just work.
Things kick off with the title track, drums, Hammond organ and guitar ushering Chris Chalmers’ soulful vocals. It’s heady stuff, with stars falling down like burning leaves, hanging trees, pale horse riders and bloody horizons. We get some respite in the next song, a slow blues, Diamond in the Dust, where we begin to appreciate the guitar chops of Paul Wilkinson and the piano work of guest keyboards player, John McCullough.
Most of the album is in the blues rock mould, but there are three numbers treated more acoustically which add a nice balance to things. Bad Blood starts with the sound of a crackly record player which gives way to some cool picked acoustic guitar and Chalmers’ vocals. There’s much to appreciate here, including Andrei Marinescu on harmonica. The final track, Old Days Coming Back is a sombre affair with lots of echo and reverb creating a ominous atmosphere, and we get a reprise of Revelator, now driven by picked resonator, and working just as well as the previous full-on rock version.
All Kinds of Evil is pure Chicago blues, expertly done, with blues harp playing that reaches right inside you and twists your innards, and terrific interplay between piano, slide guitar and harmonica. No Time to Bleed keeps that vibe going, driven by a heavier blues guitar riff and some tasty organ work.
And if it’s pure twelve bar blues you’re after, look no further than One Way Ride – it’s just great fun and I can only imagine how well this will go down in a live environment.
This is just a hugely enjoyable blues album – go buy the album and if these guys are playing anywhere near you, don’t miss them!
Download the album from Amazon.