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Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors - 'The Devil's In The Detail' Album Review


1. Smarter

2. We Never Should Have Moved To L A

3. Anywhere

4. Heavy Heart

5. Scottish Mud

6. Back in Time

7. The Gulf Of Mexico

8. Cheaters Never Change

9. Drugs And Fashion

10. Strength In Numbers

11. Don't Say I Told You So (Feat. Chrissy Barnacle)

12. It Ain't Easy

To say 2017 has been a great year for Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors would be a bit of an understatement.

There's been two tours, a live acoustic album, repeated radio play and the album that's started it all.

Recorded in Ryan's father-in-laws house in Scotland late last year (for more on that please read my interview with Ryan and Mickey here), "The Devil's In The Details" has taken a life of it's own. It's been fantastic to see an album that's been independently created and nurtured to grow beyond it's reach. Radio stations like Kerrang! and Manchester XS have picked up on the singles and gotten behind a band that doesn't have a huge label and money behind them, giving you reassurance that quality songs can get you where you deserve to be every now and again.

Opener and second single 'Smarter' sets the tone for the album. It's high quality Rock with a hint of Americana. Producer and occasional musician Dave Draper has done a great job in honing the performances of the Traitors trio (with added contributions on the album from Ginger Wildheart and Scottish musician Chrissy Barnacle). If you want sing-a-longs you don't have to look further than 'We Never Should Have Moved to L.A.' with it's cheeky chorus hook of "see you next Tuesday". It'll quickly brighten up your day, especially when you realise what the chorus stands for.

'Anywhere' sounds quite sparse on the verses but bursts into life with a chorus that the Beach Boys would be proud of and name checking Van Halen, Tom Petty and Stevie Ray Vaughn is always a bonus in my book. 'Heavy Heart' should in theory be a bit of a downer lyrically, but in the hands of the Traitors it comes across as a tale of standing defiant against the odds that have been stacked against you.

The musicianship on the album is tight with drummer Mickey Richards and bass player Rob Lane laying down a great groove on 'Scottish Mud' (they've been playing alongside Ryan since his stint in People On Vacation). 'Back In Time' is a simple break before the band kick back in with 'The Gulf Of Mexico'.

'Cheaters Never Change' is a cautionary tale, not just about love but life in general. If these guys were on a major label this would be a single, complete with high profile black and white promo video of tour footage. 'Drugs & Fashion' is a real foot stomper which to me sounds like The Cars fronted by Mark Bolan. "If you wanna fight, let's fight / But you should know I'm bringing an army" snarls the opening lines of 'Strength In Numbers' before the song drives itself along.

'Don't Say I Told You So' features a duet with Chrissy Barnacle. Her soft, folky vocals works really well with Ryan's as they trade lines against each other. It's a delicate moment on the album, building itself around a gorgeous piano motif. 'It Ain't Easy' officially closes the album before the snotty hidden track 'Ode To The Idiots' gatecrashes the album at the last moment, a Punk-infused middle finger "fuck you" to the general negativity you can find on the internet if you look around anywhere for five seconds.

When you look at the lyrics and subject matter in isolation the album should come across as feeling quite negative, but when you add Ryan's take on his own lyrics coupled to the performances from his fellow Traitors and you get a real upbeat motivational album for pretty much every occasion, except for when you're with your gran.

Review - Scott Hamilton

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