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Show some love for Richard Hawley

August 30th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Richard Hawley was born into the wrong times. The one-time Pulp sideman”s heart resides with the torchsong singers of the “50s and “60s, with Scott Walker and his Belgian archetype, Jacques Brel.

While the likes of Rod Stewart and Robbie Williams issue campish karaoke homages (or chash cows, you decide) to the Rat Pack, Hawley has crafted an original sound that is at once nostalgic and contemporary. His songs are originals, often of such musical depth and quality that one yearns for the Capitol-years Sinatra to cover them. Curse the human cycle of ageing and death for denying us the opportunity to hear Sinatra (or “Frank”, if you’re Bono) sing the title track of 2005″s Coles Corner. In absence of this option, one might wish to encourage Scott Walker to abandon the unlistenable din he is noq creating in favour of covering some Hawley “” the utterly gorgeous “Valentine” from the exquisite new album, Lady”s Bridges, suggests itself. And, oh, to have heard Johnny Cash singing “Dark Road“, also from Lady”s Bridges.

This does not imply that Hawley”s delivery is deficient. He has a soothing baritone which hints at torment and darkness. At times, the vocals are a little too dispassionate even as the lyrics are eloquent, as though Hawley was a mere observer of his life. But even when he does passion (such as on the lovely “Baby You”re My Light” from 2001″s Late Night Final), Otis Redding at his most incendiary he is not.

On Lady”s Bridges, Hawley sticks to the formula of his previous albums, but is more cohesive than its predecessors (including the excellent Coles Corner), with not one poor track. By rights, this should be background-type music. This it cannot be, because the songs pull the listener in by force of their personality. Listening to this set is rather like enjoying a luxurious bubblebath by candlelight, as the warmth of the water, the comfort of the foam, and the calmness of the dim light envelope you.

Richard Hawley – Valentine.mp3 (from Lady’s Bridges, 2007)
Richard Hawley – Dark Road.mp3 (from Lady’s Bridges, 2007)
Richard Hawley – Coles Corner.mp3 (from Coles Corner, 2005)
Richard Hawley – Just Like The Rain.mp3 (from Coles Corner, 2005)
Richard Hawley – The Only Road.mp3 (from Lowedges, 2003)
Richard Hawley – The Night Is Made For Us.mp3 (from Lowedges, 2003)
Richard Hawley – Baby You’re My Light.mp3 (from Late Night Final, 2001)
Richard Hawley – Long Black Train.mp3 (from Late Night Final, 2001)

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