Album Review: Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts – “This Is The Sound”
It’s fair to say that since their last album, 2016’s The Devil’s In The Detail, things have been progressing at a very fast rate for the band formerly known as Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors. Signing a deal with Little Steven’s record label Wicked Cool in 2017, I’ll admit that some of the news that crept out in the subsequent months had me a bit curious as to how much influence the band’s new paymasters were having on them. The group’s name was changed almost immediately, and they suddenly adopted a Jam style uniform of mod suits, both things that suggested maybe some unwelcome record label interference was taking place (though I subsequently found out I was mistaken – both these decisions were made by the band themselves).
Anyway, upon the release of This Is The Sound I can happily tell you that it doesn’t matter. Ryan and his now five-piece band (former Renegade Playboys/Bordello Rose guitarist Dave Winkler joining last year to make the group a quintet) have produced an excellent follow-up here and the instant the hooks on the opening duo of former singles Mamacita and Bottoms Up (Here’s To Goodbye) get their claws into you, it’s clear that Hamilton’s songwriting remains as strong as ever.
Like its predecessor, This Is The Sound is split between joyful upbeat rockers soaked in Texas sunshine (Get Down, the title track, Same Page) and more reflective numbers designed to tug at yer heartstrings after a few beers (Girl vs Monster, Far Cry, Won’t Stop). But whether he’s going for an upbeat or downbeat approach, the key is that Hamilton is a guy with an ear for a killer tune that won’t leave your head for days, and you should definitely expect to be cueing this one up for several repeat listens after the first time you hear it.
Outside interference then? Nah. On this evidence, Little Steven’s done the right thing and let this incredibly talented band simply get on with things and do what they do best. And with their profile and plaudits increasing all the time, long may it continue.
Just as "The Devil's In The Detail" built on Ryan Hamilton's first album "Hell Of A Day" by refining the sound, taking the best bits and amping them up one step further, so "This Is The Sound" does to its predecessor. This is a confident, tuneful and incredibly catchy album that's an ideal summer soundtrack for those late nights chilling in the back garden with a can of something cold. Definitely recommended.