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Rev Hammer Rev Hammer
Album: Skald
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11

It's easy to suggest that when your first album was recorded in a freezing cowshed where you had to switch the heaters off when the microphones went live, the only way is up, but if your backing band for that debut album, "Industrial Sounds & Magic" just happened to be the Levellers, that might put a different perspective on things.

Rev Hammer has always been a performer and writer that has drawn people into collaborative efforts, if you haven't already checked out and therefore bought his folk opera, "Freeborn John", you really should, it's based on the life of reformer John Lilburne, whose story still resonates particularly now.

I've always described Rev Hammer as a troubadour, but perhaps the title of his new album, "Skald" is a better description, because one thing Rev Hammer definitely is, is a storyteller that uses songs as his medium. Like the Skald's of old, his songs tell stories of people and places, celebrate achievements and speak out against injustice.

"Skald" is a more family orientated, more personal album than I'm used to hearing from Rev, but at the same time hitting some pretty global themes, such as a man's relationship with his emotions and how that can bring such great joy or really screw you up.

As with most of Rev's recordings, this is a collaborative effort, this time shared with fellow wandering spirit, Nick Harper. When I saw both names on the sleeve it concerned me that they might be too close to each other for it to work, but even if you do have that thought, it's very quickly put to one side, these are two great performers working on a single wave length.

You may find it strange that on an album that is so focused and songs and stories that I've not gone into them in any real depth, well there's two reasons for that. Firstly, I don't want to ruin that first meeting for you, the eleven tracks deserve the experience of you coming to them fresh, you deserve it to.

Secondly words that feel a bit like hype can have a negative effect on expectations and I want to take that risk out of the equation. "Skald" is a rich collection of songs and Rev Hammer is a singer that is able to give them life and make them resonate, songwriting and singing at it's best.

Neil King