Richard Hawley -a favorite of Nancy Sinatra and Ryan Adams- may just have earned a place in the lineage of singers and songwriters who have a legitimate gift for genuine romanticism, in a tradition wide enough to include Bacharach, Scott Walker, Dion and Roy Orbison.
I know that's quite a strong statement to make, yet Hawley belongs there by his capacity to evoke a certain nostalgia and joy of true romance that is authentic and exquisitely crafted, without ever indulging in trite sentimentality.
Whether you are already familiar with Hawley or not, Coles Corner, his most accomplished album thus far, is a perfect place to take delight on this man's work. Hawley has a distinct voice tone and sense of phrasing that can conjure up the many moods of love that many of us have felt, and that those people mentioned before have so memorably expressed.
I would add that the fact that these songs are written by him may clearly contribute to the confidence and credibility of his delivery. Whether is the longing in his voice in "Coles Corner" or "Wait For Me," which reminded me of Orbison, or the romantic pleas of "The Ocean" or "Born Under A Bad Sign"- he hits the mark.
Another remarkable fact is that Hawley is not even a singer first, his guitar work -a fixture in Pulp's sound in recent years- is what he's been originally recognized for, and in this album he confirm that too. This is one of those rare cases of virtuosity without showing off, confessional without self-consciousness, gorgeous chords and subtle solos weaving seamless stories between words and melodies.
Coles Corner, it's conveyed in the liner notes, was a place where everyone in Sheffield met -specially those looking for romance- and although, many of us were never there, it would feel like a familiar place. Whatever "your corner" was called, or my memory takes me, this music could probably be how those places sounded when we looked for love.