Baxter Dury had a sorry 2016: his heart got broken and he spent a few months crying in his flat. “I got the fire brigade round to put out sandbanks around my emotions,” he quipped recently. So ‘Prince Of Tears’ is an adult break-up record. It’s also a Baxter Dury one, which is to say, it’s despairing, comically cutting and never dreary.
Musically, this is also a long way from the trill singing voice he employed on his folky debut album ‘Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift’ in 2002. Famously he’d only sung publicly for the first time a couple of years before at his father Ian Dury’s funeral. He performed ‘My Old Man’, a song the Blockheads singer had written about his dad. These days, five albums in, Baxter’s much more comfortable living with the family influence, delivering sing-talk lines in that most recognisable of London ways.
The album opens with Baxter in character, on the rebound and full of fake bravado: “I don’t think you realise how successful I am / I’m like a shipping tycoon,” he spits. The downcast ‘Porcelain’, by contrast, features Rose Elinor Dougall who sings, “I don’t want to leave this house”. It’s Baxter who really skewers that post-relationship tangle of loss and anger, though.
The fact it’s all delivered with a new sad-disco sheen – partly down to Metronomy collaborator Ash Workman – makes the emotions all the more amplified. Saying that, ‘Prince Of Tears’ doesn’t wallow. The 10 tracks disappear in a brisk 28 minutes, as if to say, ‘Chin up, mate, get on with it’. A heartbreak record – done the British way.