Eighteen years in and still no signs of stopping. The Rev is back.

Despite being an internationally acclaimed name these days, Jon McClure and his band of merry musicians have always stayed true to their South Yorkshire roots whilst bringing flashes of all kinds of magic from different corners of the globe.

Recently, the Sheffield legends (a word I don’t use lightly) have been using their platform and the release of this banger of an album to help support the local scene in the most amazing ways including playing jam-packed house shows, plastering a Sheffield bus with the album artwork and even taking over a shop in Meadowhall to give a stage to some up and coming local artists such as Harri Larkin, Harriet Rose, Howarth & plenty more.

With “Heatwave In The Cold North”, The Makers have hit hard with arguably their strongest offering yet, bringing a fresh sound strewn with glitteringly global influences whilst also retaining that trademark South Yorkshire sound…

Something that other graduates of the Sheffield scene haven’t always managed to do.

From the opening beats and bars of the eponymous title track, it’s hard to tell whether this release has been crafted in South Yorkshire or South Central Los Angeles, with Jon “Reverend” McClure smoothly crooning over a groove that Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak would be proud of.  This is a surefire summer anthem in waiting…and we’re only on track one.

“Be kinder to yourself, and know your worth”

The honest and confessional  “A Letter To My 21 Year Old Self” sounds like a letter to every young artist out there, providing further support to the scene that’s helped give McClure the successes he’s enjoyed over the best part of the 21st century.

The song paints a picture of the trials, tribulations and travails of his career and in doing so, fires a Batsignal into the sky to summon all budding musicians to keep faith in their craft and continue creating, even if everything seems to be telling them to stop. More of this from established artists please.

Witty lyrics like – “Prove Charles Darwin incorrect, survival of the shittest”

…lifted from “26,000 Days On The Earth” (just over 71 years, in case you were wondering) show that Jon McClure hasn’t lost the poetic gift or talent for social observation that he’s had from day one, with the entire track firing shots at someone or something that’s clearly got his goat. 

The fearlessly funky guitar sits atop a bed of intricately wound drum breaks like a face-level punch (or Jo-Dahn Zuki – the karate term which gave the name to Jon McClure’s first musical project “Judan Suki” all the way back in the early 2000s, which featured local heavyweights Alex Turner & Matt Helders, amongst others).

You Don’t Love Me” brings a warmly welcomed touch of rainy day respite in the midst of all the summery sunshine, with McClure asking the recipient to “take it easy on me please” and “let me down gently now, cos I don’t know how” with the H’s being dropped in The Rev’s true SY style.

This touching ballad is a far cry from the days of “He Said He Loved With Me” (written in partnership with former flatmate and global icon Alex Turner) and the career-defining smash hit “Heavyweight Champion of the World” but it makes you wonder why The Makers haven’t penned more ballads, as McClure’s sultry tone lends itself perfectly to this sort of sound.

South Yorkshire’s huge history of male singers have a history of being blessed with a timbre (and an accent) which is perfectly suited to the slower, softer aspects of music…

If you’re in doubt then you need look no further than Tony Christie, Joe Cocker or more recently Richard Hawley…Household names which The Rev sits comfortably amongst on this evidence.

The penultimate track on the album is “The Exception” which opens with a sun-drenched bossanova swagger, complete with excitingly ear-catching offbeat percussive stabs. Despite the name of this cool, cultured piece, it’s no exception to the rest of the album in that it grabs the listener’s attention and refuses to let go.

“Enough is enough” – drawls Jon at the end of the song, ironically so seeing as one could listen to more of this sort of sound for days on end.

The album closes with the so-chilled-it’s-almost-lying-down “Living Without You” which sounds like a love letter to any number of potential readers.

I’ve been thinking about, thinking about living without you, pretending I hate you…letting you go”

It could be Jon’s passion for the music industry, it could be Sheffield itself or it could simply be a person close to his heart in his personal life, but one thing’s for certain – there will be thousands of people glad that we’re still living with more new music from Grenoside’s Greatest Groover ™.

You can catch Reverend & The Makers headlining the main room in the inner-city musical temple of The Leadmill this Saturday, being supported by the rapidly rising local indie upstart Sam Scherdel…or at least you could have done, if you’d not slept on the tickets….it’s fully sold out.

The Leadmill won’t know what’s hit it.

All in all, “Heatwave In The Cold North” feels like a “proper album”, effortlessly weaving back and forth between moments of light and shade to take the listener on a trip from Sheffield, round the world and back again…much like the journey that Reverend & The Makers have themselves been on.

 Here’s hoping for another eighteen years. 👊