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The Royal Family and the Poor \ North-West Soul [BOUCD 6607]

The twelve bittersweet songs on North-West Soul reflect the dreams and aspirations songwriter Mike Keane struggled to realise in inner city Toxteth between 2000 and 2004.

Never easy to categorise, the music of the Royal Family & the Poor touches on ballads (Leaves in the Wind, Sweeter Than the Day), dark electronica (Nocturne, Midnight Symphony) and lighter electro-pop (Falling, Long Time Coming). Self-produced, the album runs for 70 minutes and features artwork conceived by Mike.


1. Falling
2. Sick Sad World
3. Wandering
4. Ratio
5. Long Time Coming
6. Midnight Symphony II
7. Sweeter Than the Day
8. Tell-Tale Heart
9. Hymn to the Night (The Dark Gift)
10. Leaves in the Wind
11. Sol Sonic
12. You + Me
13. Starfire

Available on CD and digital (MP3 or FLAC). To order please first select correct shipping option (UK, EU or Rest of World) and then click on Add To Cart button below cover image. Digital copies are delivered to customers by email link.

North-West Soul [BOUCD 6607
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"On the heels of a mighty fine reissue program of his earlier work, Mike Keane released his fifth album in the Royal Family and the Poor guise, compiling a variety of songs from sessions over four years' time. In keeping with most of his work, North-West Soul is a solo album in all but name, with Keane handling everything himself with fine results. His voice - possibly his most underrated quality, thoughtful and gentle without being twee or melodramatic - gets treated throughout with a slight echo, adding a strong sense of depth and space to the performances. Often the warmth comes through in unexpected moments, as in his narrative praise to another via the chorus of Midnight Symphony II, perhaps the album's strongest song, though the sense of threat and drama overall in Hymn to the Night (The Dark Gift) comes close. Some exceptions aside - particularly the fairly generic rave attempts Sol Sonic and Starfire, which end the album on an indifferent note - Keane's general approach to arrangements dates back to his earliest days. Songs like Falling and the downright chirpy Leaves in the Wind sound like they could have been just easily recorded in 1984 as 2004, and once or twice the feeling is of overly slick 'dark' moments from Miami Vice. But given that UK post-punk era's rediscovery and re-popularisation, it's more like a sticking to one's guns that pays off well in the end, especially when he balances sunnier elements with moodier - the brisk, light hip-hop beats under the ominous tones of Ratio being a fine example, as well as the twinkling keyboard and E-Bow guitar blend on Long Time Coming. Even something as on-the-face-of-it awkward as Wandering, with Gary Numan rhythms and synth accompanied by wordless backing soul wails mixed with Keane's arcing guitar and singing, results in an unexpected melancholy" (All Music Guide, 06/2004)

"A return to form for Liverpool's most elegiac son" (Leonard's Lair, 05/2004)

"Open, and far more direct than on any of his previous outings. A brave, broody and isolated album, rich in affecting, nocturnal pop and almost unbearably honest soul-mining" (Whisperin' & Hollerin', 06/2004

"Keane crafts his arrangements with care and intelligence, parlaying any indulgences and leaving us with dark and compelling songs. As fresh and passionate as ever" (The Big Takeover, 09/2004)