Prosecco Socialist: Songs from Behind Bars review – pints of misery

Songs from Behind Bars
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Artist: Prosecco Socialist
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Gypsy Chicken Box Records

When Yorkshire pop group The Beautiful South went belly-up over 10 years ago (the famed reason for splitting up was "musical similarities"), co-founding member Dave Rotheray went on to deliver his songs in side projects (Homespun) and solo albums.

He also moved back to his hometown of Hull, where, deciding on a career other than a songwriter/musician, he opened a pub. It was while overseeing proceedings at The People's Republic ("the bar serves world beers, vintage snacks and plays world music from proper records on a proper turntable" – Yorkshire Post), that Rotheray became inspired to write songs based on his clients' barstool confessionals.

Hooking up with fellow Hull singer Mike Greaves and a longtime friend from Ireland, Eleanor McEvoy – who, between them, provide all the vocals on the album, the former with more gravitas than a funeral, the latter with her signature Irish lilt – Rotheray fashions 10 songs, not all of which are recent compositions, in an idiom that mixes smart folk/pop and rough-edged country with a lyrical style that tethers punch lines to tales of cheerlessness and poignancy.

Grab a seat, misery guts – it’s your round next.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture