David Rotheray – The Life of Birds

Release Date 16/08/2010 (Proper Records)

By Ricks Sims

The Life of BirdsThe first solo album from the guitarist from Hull! David Rotheray, best remembered for The Beautiful South – a band described on his website as “a crypto-vegetarian pop group” – and the more recent band Homespun. ‘The Life Of Birds’ is a showcase of cabaret and Irish Folk singers including Eleanor McEvoy, Eliza Carthy, Camille O’Sullivan and Jack L.

It opens with single release ‘The Sparrow, the Thrush & the Nightingale’. However, this is not the politically correct replacement to the Irish man, English man and Welsh man jokes. Instead it is a mediocre nursery rhyme and not really allegorical, but a weak and blatant tale of what happens when you follow greed. The story is concluded at the end of the album with ‘Part II’. It’s something that would be best placed entertaining children. This is in stark contrast to the content of the other songs. Rotheray states that it was, “A long standing ambition to write an album with bookend”, something which makes this a means to an end. The rest of the album is a collection of different styles, defined by many different musicians: mostly Folk, Country and Chamber.

The album portrays the spectra of life, the inner blues that trouble us by our own isolation maintained within the simple passing of time. Two of the songs, ‘Sweet Forgetfulness’ and ‘Almost Beautiful’ are sensitively written about Alzheimers. The first is Folk/Country in style, ‘For memory is a curse…’, she sings. Forward a few to ‘The best excuse in the world is the Truth’ sung by Jack L, and it feels likes it’s straight out of a cabaret. It details the troubles of gay MEN who may have left it too late in their lives to come out. Its lyrics are bleak and the chamber-like music doesn’t do justice to Jack L, who warrants much attention. ‘The Digital Cuckoo’ is a Luddite’s song about the failings of technology and false ‘progression’. Sung by Bella Hardy, this is one of the better tracks on the album. Tellingly, Rotheray says it’s been kicking around for years.

This album can be sidestepped but, if you like Rotheray in your boat, then maybe it will float.

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