Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors – Devil’s In The Detail


Go somewhere sunny, hire a convertible, drop the top and turn up the tunes…

Available from 14 February 2017 and reviewed by Ian Savage 

This just screams ‘Americana’ straight from the opening chords. No, no, no – don’t close the browser tab. I mean good Americana – like when Bruce Springsteen or the Black Crowes let a massive Telecaster chord ring over a backbeat and a gospel choir, or when they invent big noisy motorbikes and straight roads for miles, or when their president isn’t a weapons-grade bellend but redefines the idea of ‘liberty’ for the rest of us instead. THAT kind of Americana.

Texas’ Ryan Hamilton has been ploughing the acoustic-ish-singer-songwriter field since he fronted Smile Smile and ‘supergroup’ People On Vacation (with Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick) a decade and less back. He seems to have found his spiritual homeland in the UK, though – his bandmates in The Traitors are sure to be familiar to anyone who’s paid attention to the British unsigned scene over the past few years.

‘Devil’s In The Detail’, then, could be the best trans-Atlantic partnership we’re likely to get for a while. From starter ’Smarter’ (sample lyric: “I’m still not clean, and I’m not sober; I’m just a little bit smarter and a whole lot older”) it can easily be taken as the first few chapters of an autobiography, with snippets of travel, love, times gone by and social commentary flashing by in a blur of acoustic and electric instrumentation. It sure as hell comes in where the likes of Tom Petty and Cheap Trick leave off, but has a definite twist all of its own.

There’s ups (’Strength In Numbers’ is surely the best song to open on its chorus this year) and downs (‘Cheaters Never Change’) but way more of the former than the latter, with Mickey Richards’ drums and Rob Lane’s bass providing the perfect backstop to Ryan’s poeticism.

It’s going to make you want to go somewhere sunny, hire a convertible, drop the top and turn up the tunes – and with all of the shit going on in the world lately, that might just be the best thing you could do.

Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors – Devils In The Detail8 out of 10

Track list: 

  1. Smarter
  2. We Never Should Have Moved To LA
  3. Anywhere
  4. Heavy Heart
  5. Scottish Mud
  6. Back In Time
  7. The Gulf Of Mexico
  8. Cheaters Never Change
  9. Drugs & Fashion
  10. Strength In Numbers
  11. Don’t Say I Told You So
  12. It Ain’t Easy