Sons of Southern Ulster: Sinners and Lost Souls review – Cantankerous and vivid views of Ireland

Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 05:00


Sinners and Lost Souls

Sons of Southern Ulster

HT Records


They were around long before Fontaines DC, but if any Irish band could be said to have been spiritual fathers to the creators of Dogrel (and the forthcoming second album, A Hero’s Death) then it is certainly Sons of Southern Ulster.

Uncannily (a word used without any cynical connotation), both bands ooze an authentic Irishness that comes from a collective voice of experience, and so we’d hazard a shrewd guess that the younger musicians might have copped an earful of the older unit’s superb, raw 2016 debut, Foundry Folk Songs.

Not that it matters, of course, but Sinners and Lost Souls runs with the same pack of feral, smart wolves; if the debut was wrapped in a gauzy haze of provincial Irish reminiscence brought to life by the ragged, beat-up poetry of Mark E Smith, the new album’s cantankerous edge is more transparent.

There remains at the heart, however, vivid views of life in Ireland in a somewhat different time. With music that bangs a can in dissonant rhythm to the likes of The Fall (as well as Ireland’s largely misunderstood art-agitators, the Virgin Prunes), Justin Kelly’s lyrics tell wonderful stories that are located at the intersection between cultural inertia and edges of progress. Irishisms and place names abound (“green grass and cow shite”, Kilmainhamwood, Barry’s Hotel), yet the scope, the vision, is universal.