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Album Review : Ramblin’ Preachers – Sins & Virtues

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Reviewed by Taf Rock for MPM

Images by Chris Griff

Take a break from the rat race, step inside the church of rock and settle yourself onto a pew. Join the assembled congregation in hushed silence as we await the arrival of our preacher for the day. It’s been five long years in the making but at long last Ross Connor steps up to the pulpit and prepares to deliver his sermon.

Ross points to the heavens and holds aloft a small shiny disc. ‘Our sermon today reflects on the experiences myself and my musical brethren have encountered throughout our lifetimes. Ladies and gentlemen may I proudly present to you the nine Sins & Virtues of the Ramblin’ Preachers documented for your repeated enjoyment on this our debut album‘.

Based in Milton Keynes Ramblin’ Preachers feature Ross on vocals and guitar. Helping to deliver the sermon are James Ives (lead guitar), Craig Howe (bass/backing vocals) and Richard Baker on drums and backing vocals. British blues guitar hotshot Oli Brown provides additional guitar and backing vocals. Sins & Virtues was produced by Nick Burns and Wayne Proctor, Nick also contributed keyboards to the album.

Ramblin’ Preachers are no strangers to indulging in a touch of Southern Rock as evidenced on our opener Separate Ways a track which will go down well with fans of Californian heavyweights Robert Jon & The Wreck. Ross’ impressive vocals in particular leaning heavily in the direction of their transatlantic cousins. ‘Tired of walking on egg shells’ the call is made for a relationship to end and respective partners to go off in their own direction. An upbeat southern rock fuelled number with Nick Burns’ keys adding to the driving Howes/Baker rhythm section. 

The memorable lyrics and stop start riffery of Keep On maintains the momentum established by our opener. ‘Working on my hands and knees… bills to pay… mouths to feed … born to be no one’s slave’ the band urge the listener to keep plugging away, keep hold of your dreams even when times are tough and ‘I feel like giving up’. Indeed The Preachers and this album are a perfect example of what can be achieved if you don’t let go of your ambitions and carry on regardless. Formed in 2019, just prior to the pandemic enforced shutdown of the gigging world, it is only now that the band can finally release this impressive debut album.

Throughout life most people encounter Jealousy, musiciansthemselves no stranger to the green eyed monster. Written in response to negative comments aimed in the band’s direction by people seemingly in envy of the passion and enthusiasm the band have for life and the music they create the tune is a funky number tipping the hat in the direction of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at times. Craig Howe’s bass to the fore, helping to create an infectious hookline. The message is driven home in the best possible way ‘I don’t care what you say about me… I’ll always be the biggest success of your jealousy’. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!!

The band have been performing Jester as part of their set for many years now. An established fan favourite it’s wonderful to at last hear this song immortalised as part of an album. The pace switches, rock and funk give way to blues as this wonderfully constructed ballad takes centre stage. Ross ‘don’t wanna be the talk of the town’ despite showing his versatility with a soulful vocal performance complimented by James’ guitar.

I’ve got more chance finding the rarest of jewel’ sings Ross. In Jester a gleaming shining diamond of a song has been created. A song that at last is getting the exposure it richly deserves. As the track reaches its climax the ethereal guitar solo carries you away from this world before Ross’ closing vocal brings you gently back down to earth ‘I am the jester who fell for the queen’.

A percussive introduction gives way to the powerful stop start riffery of Forbidden. Filled with gang vocal cries this track is full on temptation. The only thing forbidden here is to sit still in your seat. Get up join the party and rock out along with the band. A guaranteed crowd pleaser – Ramblin’ Preachers are bound to ‘put you out of your misery’.

We are pulled out of the gutter and put on the right path by Keep Doing You. Opening with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on any of the classic AC/DC albums of the past the song soon takes on a southern flavour the guitar displaying shades of the Allman Brothers at times. Ross has ‘no time for friends that don’t last’. Just be honest, true to yourself and ‘that’s fine’.

Better Than Me – An upbeat track that’s sure to get you up on your feet leaping around with the infectious beat. A cheating partner ‘wants to leave’ but has been caught out and is put in their place. ‘Did you leave the back door open so he could walk right in?’ enquires Ross. Despite the serious nature to the song the digs at the unfaithful one bring a smile to your face ‘does he buy you flowers… write poetry!!!’ all delivered in an infectious sing-a-long manner. 

Don’t think about the Hard Times when the Ramblin’ Preachers are by your side. You’ve got all you need to keep you satisfied. A funky feel good groovy song fuelled by a powerful Baker drumbeat and scintillating guitar from James Ives.

Despite ‘burning Candles from the start of the morning to the end of the day’ the Ramblin’ Preachers show no sign of flagging as this impressive debut album draws to a close with another solid dose of groovy funk. ‘The wolves howl … the sun goes down’ but the band ‘go out on the town’ on a high.

Feed yourself with manna from heaven. Give in to temptation, grab yourself a copy of Sins & Virtues (released March 29th). In celebration of its release Ramblin’ Preachers will be holding a release party at the Craufard Arms in Milton Keynes on the same day. Be there and join the converted or experience the band for yourself on their upcoming tour throughout the UK. https://www.ramblinpreachers.com/tour

Connect with the band on the following links:

Web: https://www.ramblinpreachers.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ramblinpreachers

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ramblinpreachers?igsh=MW5iZHB5ZGY4MGRmNQ==

YouTube: https://youtube.com/@ramblinpreachers?si=h7ynL_fEweMYKz2e

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