Ian Prowse - Who Loves Ya Baby (Independent Records Limited) 
Ian Prowse - Who Loves Ya Baby

Release Date: 17th March 2014

Before we get started I have two problems with this album even without listening to it: 1) The title has no question mark in it - this stuff keeps me up at night. 2) What the hell is that cover all about? What is up his sleeve that deserves so much attention he couldn't even raise his head for the photographer? Sorry, just had to get that out of the way before I gave the music a fair crack of the whip. Some of you will recognise Ian Prowse from 90s band Pele and, more recently, Amsterdam but this is his first effort at a solo album - although it's by no means just him and a guitar. 'God And Man' kicks things off with a hopeful, sing-a-long kinda feel that half explains why Prowse is known as the Scouse Springsteen. Weirdly, the next two tracks take a thoroughly Irish turn with penny whistles liberally strewn about on the wistful 'Coming Up For Air' and quietly determined 'We Were Men'. Already you can see that Ian Prowse is a story teller in the fine tradition of tale-weavers and although the production qualities are high these are songs that could easily be sung in a rough and ready bar anywhere down near the docks.

'I Did It For Love' kicks in with a samba style rhythm and a huge chorus but a lyrical motif that channels Che Guevara and more wild tales, this time of revolution. Continuing the theme of combat, Prowse moves on to 'Lest We Forget' a sad ballad looking back at WWI before moving on to more personal battles in 'Anger Mountain'. The celtic instrumentation is back on 'Bring On The Healing' which bounces along gently in the indie-folk-soul spectrum while 'Lift Up Thine Eyes' has some great 60s guitars and an extreme sense of British pride without being remotely xenophobic. Ironically, 'Empire' then takes a look at the more negative impacts of Britannia to the tune of some rocking guitars and a healthy slab of thick, treacly organ. "Yeah, yeah, yeah we built this empire on your blood" sings Prowse and as an opening line you don't get much more attention grabbing than that.

The gentle acoustic lilt of 'The Murder of Charles Wootton' provides a falsely secure tone upon which to lay out the themes of racism and bigotry with some potent lyrical work. 'Raising Up The Clans' goes back to that Springsteen tone again but rather than a rallying call to arms for a big battle, this song is apparently inspired by the 2013 NHS marches in Manchester - who knew?! To finish up with there is 'Six Factories', a song that sets a misty and deathly tone which is wholly appropriate as the subject matter is that of the six concentration camps built in Poland by the Nazis. Prowse is obviously an avid consumer of history, politics and cultural shifts which makes for an album that engages the head as well as the heart and that can't be bad, can it? Still though, next time you're having your photo taken Ian, lift your head up, eh? I bet you've got gorgeous green eyes.

More information: www.amsterdam-music.com

Live Dates:

21st March - Manchester Academy 3, Manchester (Amsterdam show)
3rd April - Rodewald Suite, Liverpool (solo)
4th April - Appletreewick, Yorkshire (solo)
10th April - Thunderbolt, Bristol (Amsterdam show)
11th April - The Cellars, Portsmouth (Amsterdam show)
18th April - Borderline, London (Amsterdam show)
26th April - Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton (Amsterdam show)
2nd May - Korks, Otley (solo)
17th May - Hurst Green, Preston (solo)
23rd May - Tulloch Institute, Perth (solo)
24th May - The Bar & Fly, Glasgow (Amsterdam show)

30th May - Acoustic Festival of Britain (solo)