Words by Ed King / Images courtesy of Marshall Records
That difficult second album was a little more challenging for REWS, aka the Belfast born London living rock songstress that is Shauna Tohill.
Not only did Tohill have her band spilt in two, following an absurdly strong debut album, but that pesky global pandemic severed the promo gigs for her follow up right down the middle as well – with concerns over coronavirus cutting short the aptly named Phoenix Tour in early March.
Now, on the red latter date that is 7th August 2020, finally something is going her way. REWS’s sophomore album, Warriors, has hit the shelves – or whatever lexicon describes our current online purchasing patterns. But sterilised, self-isolated, never before touched by human hands copies of this 11 track return to glory are now flinging themselves up and down the country. At least something can.
So, is it any good? Has the wait been worth it?
It is tempting to make similes about the name of the previously cancelled tour… but a mythical bird that is gloriously reborn from the flames and ash of its own demise is quite a fitting symbol. If I can find something in Greek mythology that symbolises a killer rock riff and soaring vocals, then the metaphor may be complete.
But to use the parlance of more modern times, Warriors is ‘a banger’ – start to finish, a wrecking ball of a rock album. Warriors is more mature, robust, and ultimately promising than its predecessor, showing a diversity and bravery in its approach that screams gold stars for Tohill and her team.
Opening with ‘Birdsong’, which is simply a corker of a tune, the album is peppered with chorus catching singles such as ‘Monster’ and ‘Heat on Fire’– standing tall as singles should.
Across the 11 tracks there are moments of wonderful restraint, held against Tohill’s powerful front person persona which has always made REWS such a confident and class act – the album’s sorta/kinda title track ‘Today We’re Warriors’ is a great line in the sand for this, alongside the furiously addictive ‘Razorblade’.
And whilst Tohill has not lost her flair for melody, it’s the song writing that really shines across Warriors – this is development, and in that crazy good way that makes you believe you’ll be listening to this artist in your dotage.
‘Move On’ is a cracking raw edge, ‘Play Dead’ shows a confident grasp on the new ensemble, and the denouement, ‘Bad Habits’, is a wonderful surprise and goodbye. Or rather, see you later – we hope. And to this writer, lyrically Warriors is unrecognisable from what came before. I just love it.
REWS have often been referred to as a ‘powerhouse’ – and this declaration to not go quietly into the night is another stamp of their increasing authority on modern rock. Which, honestly, it might not have been – with all the hurdles that have been put in front of it, you’d be forgiven for making a few stumbles along the way.
Warriors if the start of something, not the end – with bright red plumes to send it on its way. And if you’ve ever seen Shauna Tohill strut her funky stuff on stage, you know this is going to ABSOLUTELY SLAY live – once the doors are open and the drinks are flowing again. Socially distanced mosh pit anyone?
‘Today We’re Warriors’
Warriors by REWS is out from Friday 7th August, released via Marshall Records. For online orders and other related REWS merchandise, visit www.transistormusic.com/rews_warriors_cd
For more on REWS, visit www.rewsmusic.com