is Richard Hawley's third album. Neither of its predecessors caused riots in record stores, but pretty much everyone who has paid attention to British pop music in the last decade has heard Richard Hawley. As a session guitarist for Pulp
, Robbie Williams
, Beth Orton
and others, Hawley commands the airwaves to a degree that any similar singer-songwriter would kill for. It can't be easy though to live with the irony that the work that appears under his own name is his least known and by some distance his best.
Lowedges sees Hawley sticking to the template he established on his two previous solo albums: knelling, tuneful ballads are built around an acoustic guitar and sung with a guttural croon that pitches somewhere between Edwyn Collins and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. Like Leonard Cohen and Lee Hazlewood, Hawley revels in melancholy. Tracks such as "On the Ledge" and "You Don't Miss Your Water (Till Your River Runs Dry)" are confections of the most sumptuous misery. --Andrew Mueller
I rarely listen to an album once and fall immediately in love with it but that's what happened when I heard Richard Hawley's first solo album. So it was with trepidation that I listened to Lowedges; I was dubious that anything could match his previous effort Late Night Final.
It begins with indie-sounding drums that are true to Hawley's roots; he was formerly a member of indie-heads The Longpigs. His distinctive voice resonates like polished grit over a combination of searing strings, hawaiian lap steels, mellotrons and even enchanted lyres. The depth and testosterone of his vocals also stop his sentimental lyrics from sounding cloying.
All the tracks are driven by strong melodies and are mainly at a mid-tempo pace that keeps the album moving along nicely, until you get to the fourth track that is. There is only one thing wrong with "The Only Road"; it is too bloody good and I can't get past the track asIhave to keep playing it again and again. Despite it being the longest on the album, (almost 6 minutes), I just wish it would never end. With an enchanting melody and chords that sit alongside luscious lyrics, strong images are conjured up: "I water flowers in the rain, I dance beneath your silver flames". I'm not entirely sure what he's really going on about here but I'm so blissed out by this point I hardly care. Just about anyone who has a heart will identify with the pain and suffering of love that Hawley is referencing but despite being "crippled by the sound of love" the sado-masochist pleads "please keep me in your heart".
However do get past this track as although for me it doesn't get any better, there are still plenty more gems to be had such as the catchy "The Motorcycle Song" and the instrumental "Danny".
Lowedges (an area of his native Sheffield) doesn't break any new ground or push any musical boundaries but this is melodic songwriting at its best and a pleasure to listen to so keep 'em coming Richard. After all, when you get it so right why change a thing? --Niky Daley
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