David Rotheray is best known for playing guitar and being a co-songwriter with radio 2 favourites The Beautiful South. The Life of Birds is not a solo album per se, as Rotheray has enlisted the help of a number of vocalists to help realise what is a solid, if slightly uninspiring folk album.
The Life of Birds is bookended with The Sparrow, The Thrush and The Nightingale parts one and two. This is a great song with a strong beat and an incredibly catchy whistling refrain. This, coupled with the brilliantly clever lyrics about music, greed and betrayal set the album off in fine form. Unfortunately the album struggles to reach such lofty heights elsewhere.
There is a general tone of sadness which shrouds the whole album almost completely. Living Before the War and Almost Beautiful are two of the most delicate, quiet songs on show, almost a million miles from Rotheray's joyful work with The Beautiful South. These songs might take your breath away with their soulful intimacy, which is nonetheless a joy to behold, they never quite ignite or connect like you feel maybe they should.
The Life of Birds then, is an album full of opportunities, and some fantastic up-and-coming folk singers, but maybe with a little more work this could have been something really special.