Richard Hawley ‘Standing At the Sky’s Edge'(EMI Music)
We’ve featured Richard Hawley a few times on Louder Than War. He has just rereleased a new album, & it shows a bit of a change of direction for him. Read below to see what our reporter thinks of it.
There are some recording artists that consistently produce work of exceptional quality with credible mass appeal that for some reason seem to hover on the periphery of greatness. Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner, Mike Mills, Guy Garvey and even All Saints, Banksy and Robbie Williams have tried to drag Richard Hawley into the spotlight, but despite Mercury Prize nominations and soundtracking Oscar nominated films, Hawley has evaded the wider recognition he so greatly deserves.
Standing At the Sky’s Edge moves Hawley deeper into the rock genre than previous albums, bringing with it a more complex production sound. The lyrical composure and crooning voice are still present and correct on tracks like Seek It and Before. But for most of the album the music is allowed to speak more than the lyrics.
The opening She Brings the Sunlight eases us in with a roiling guitar track and deep echoing vocals reminiscent of the best indie guitar tracks of the min 90’s. The title track feels like a sweeping camera shot over the South Yorkshire landscape, a sensation repeated again on Time Will Bring You Winter and the stand out track on the album Down in the Woods with its Stooges inspired riff. The sense of place is further strengthened with the urban landscape emotions in Leave Your Body Behind You.
The album closes with There’s a Storm a Comin’ which starts like a Hollywood soundtrack from the 1960’s. You could be throwing Three Coins in a Fountain or heading off to a Dance Beneath the Sea, then mid song, the surf guitar fades, the drums rise and the choral vocal transforms the song into a sweeping anthemic finale.
So once again Hawley has delivered an album of quality. The old Hawley is there, but so are clear signs of progress (or is that regress). The songs will play well to the all important festival crowd, perfect for that golden spot as the sun sets and night falls. It’s doubtful that all Hawley fans will love this album as much as his earlier work, but frankly it’s time Hawley was recognised by a wider audience for the talent that he is and Standing At the Sky’s Edge has the appeal to deliver on that.
All words @thisismusic who can be found on twitter here.