Reviewed by: Jane Roser
DC/Virginia-based Revelator Hill’s debut album, Atlantic Detour, is a solid, exhilarating rock and soul record that drips with the blues and shows you just what happens when the fuel meets the fire.
Developing out of The Bobby Thompson Project, Revelator Hill found its roots after guitarist/lead singer Bobby Thompson recorded a live album at the iconic Arlington, Virginia venue IOTA back in 2015. Track 3 “Look At You Now” was actually included in that album and then re-recorded in the studio for Atlantic Detour.
Bassist Seth Morrissey, keyboardist Wes Lanich, drummer Gary Crockett and percussionist Jeff Mills channel blues-rock guitar icons Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and even a bit of the colorful personality of the legendary Albert Collins (who also played the bandleader in the ’80s film Adventures in Babysitting, insisting that “Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.”) Infusing these classic influences with their own unique style, the result is a sincere, passionate and comprehensive collection of songs about longings, frustrations and soulful self-determination-basically defining what it means to experience life, love and loss.
With the exception of a cover of Chester Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf’s classic “How Many More Years” and a beautiful bare-bones version of late singer-songwriter Chris Whitley’s “Wild Country”, Thompson wrote most of the album’s eight tracks.
“Bad Luck Goodbye” is an emotionally charged tune which rocks some serious snarling electric guitar riffs and smooth vocals which punctuate every lyric. Crockett and Mills’s percussion combined with Lanich’s spirited keyboards adds layers of depth and texture to create a well-woven, tight sound.
“Gets Me Over” saunters and swaggers throughout like the protagonist of a Quentin Tarantino film-nostalgic, stylish and seductive. I especially love how the song slowly fades out at the end instead of coming to an abrupt finish.
I’ve been a fan of “Look At You Now” since I first heard it on the Live At IOTA album. This is a “oh-hell no” kind of song: “You came for love-you had none/You came for hunger-I fed you some/You came for money-Lord, you spent it all/You came for salvation-how far you fall.” It’s a magnificent description of our own personal limits of exasperation with those who take more than they give.
Raw, intoxicating and tempestuous, Atlantic Detour is where you’d go to meet the devil at the crossroads and then proceed to scorch the earth.