Ian Prowse is asking himself a few questions on new album ‘One Hand On The Starry Plough’: “Are you lonely?”, “Are you sorry?”, “Are you holy?”, “Are you precious?”.
The final song on ‘One Hand On The Starry Plough’ is ‘He Sings I Cry’ and it’s the recording every cosmic Scouser this side of Noel Gallagher has tried to produce since the turn of the Millennium. Even the ex-Oasis man himself has been trying to write this one since going solo. A celestial journey taking in guitar-pop, house groove and straight-ahead soul, the memorable tune never feels forced as the Merseysider takes on love and faith with lyrical nods to Fidel Castro, Burt Lancaster and a thousand lonely local heroes.
If the last song on the new record is a big one, where does that leave the rest of his fourth solo album, following two decades of recordings with Pele and Amsterdam? It’s more of the same from the top, with big chorus’, wide open melodies and heart-on-sleeve lyrics dominating throughout. Left turns such as the strings-assisted ‘Diego’ (think Elvis Costello’s ‘North’) and the beautifully atmospheric ‘Big Feelings’ slow things down in the right places, but it’s four-to-the-floor rock ‘n’ roll across the rest of this righteous ride with singles ‘Battle’ and ‘Holy, Holy River’ flowing from the same source as the best of Prowse’s previous work. The hard-hitting ‘No Trial’ and ‘Swine’ come on like angry Attractions and E Street Band romps, while the Celtic soul of ‘Dan’ and the shuffling humanity of ‘Go Livio’ bring the colour and swing to the record’s superb second side.
Prowse has spoken of this being the only album of his life when the songs were written during the same period and while you can tell the world these tunes were brought into is fouled and confused, there’s no obvious signs of pandemics, Brexits or all the other bollocks the last two years has brought. This is an album about people, places and the perpetual positivity Prowse infects everything he comes into contact with: the lyrics may well be unflinching, but the music and message is one of optimism.
As ever with this fella’, it’s the hope that thrills you.
‘One Hand On The Starry Plough’ is out now on Kitchen Disco Records
Ian Prowse and Amsterdam | For all your Pele, Amsterdam and Ian Prowse solo news (amsterdam-music.com)