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4.3 out of 5 stars129
4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.5 stars

This is all a bit unexpected. Richard Hawley classic balladeer, aching lyricist and glorious singer songwriter becomes a space rock cadet? That at least is the interpretation of a number of music magazine reviews of this album thus far and it is partly why this reviewer for the first time approached a Hawley album with a distinct degree of trepidation. On the surface it all sounds faintly sacrilegious. Hawley is a man of humungous talent but inevitably when his name enters your head its the lush romanticism of a "Coles Corner", "Tonight the streets are ours" or "For your lover give some time" which spring to the forefront. In this setting his latest opus "Standing at the sky's edge" is a real departure but the good news is that it is a roaring success particularly if you are prepared to move on from his accumulated past glories and celebrate a much nosier and sonic orientated domain.

The declaration of intent comes on the monster seven minute opener "She brings the light" which starts sounding vaguely Eastern in a "Kashmir" kind of way until huge hammer chords pile in and Hawley's echoing vocals roll out over what sounds like a mix of sitars. It is like Stone Roses power chords at Spinal Tap volume eleven meets Cornershop and it works brilliantly largely because of underlying pop sensibility of Hawley's songwriting. Register in addition the blistering guitar solo at around four minutes might bring down the porcelain ducks off the wall. If you want to hear it you can download the track free from Amazon, bless them. The pace settles into a moody gallop on the deeply textured title track on which Hawley's atmospheric vocals are at their brilliant best. It has a nice psychedelic feel and really does power up over its near seven minute duration. "Time will bring you winter" is all looped vocals and has a huge guitar backdrop that those Texan post rockers "Explosions in the sky" would be proud of. Barely is this concluded before "Down in the woods" piles in with enough force to feed the national grid and distinctly echoes Hawley's Manchester contemporaries The Doves with its robust execution. These first four songs are as far removed from anything on the dark beauty of 2009s "Truelove's Gutter" as is possible to achieve. They demonstrate however that Hawley is super intelligent rock composer who can bring to the genre a sense of melody and structure whilst ripping bare the frames of your speakers and threatening them with destruction.

Things cool considerably in the second part of this album. With the fifth track "Seek it", he returns to a template that his supporters will fully recognise. It is a gorgeous rolling love song where he sings of being "blinded by love" and can be safely played in front of your partner. Equally the standout "Don't stare at the sun" shows Hawley can turn on the melodic tap at any point a produce a lovely song packed to the rafters with dreamy introspection and an emotive fade out where his guitar playing hits the heights. The mood darkens for the swirling "The wood colliers grave" which sounds like an old fashioned murder ballad before he returns with the big rock anthem "Leave your body behind" with its angry almost Paul Weller sounding power chords. The whole kit and kaboodle is rounded off with a love ballad "Before" that sounds like a mix of Duane Eddy meets Lift to Experience. This song is partitioned with a guitar solo so furious it needs anger management. Yet despite all the feedback and noise Hawley is always in control and it is an impressive conclusion to an album which will inevitably generate some debate and possibly split the jury.

If you like Hawley in the guise of tender songsmith the bulk of this album may get on your proverbial wick. "Standing at the sky's edge" is a noisy old beast and is clearly framed as a departure from his previous work. You sense that Hawley might be getting from it that kind of pleasure the old contrarian Neil Young gets from his various high energy electric dispatches, not least a devil may care attitude to a traditional fan base. Nevertheless there is easily enough here to satisfy old and new fans and Hawley is to be commended on taking a risk that he succeeds into turning into a new and vibrant opportunity for his musical direction. What do you think?
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on 8 January 2013
It has to be said that Richard Hawley pulled this out of the hat. 'Standing At The Sky's Edge' is like nothing he's ever done before and its his best album yet. Out come guitars soaked in waves of feedback, echoing vocals and a new psychedelic sound of pure sonic bliss. Its like he was locked in a room listening to nothing but My Bloody Valentine and Echo & The Bunnymen. Its an album that can be loud yet offer a lot of aural calmness. There's clearly a strong Shoegaze and Dream Pop influence mixed in here, and its really refreshing to hear this come from someone like Hawley.

'She Brings The Sunlight' is distorted guitars mixed with Hawley's distant vocals, a brilliant opener. The title track and 'Time Will Bring You Winter' are great drifting, catchy songs with some excellent hooks. While 'Down In The Woods' is fast paced psychedelica sounding like Ride at their most bombastic. Both 'Seek It' and 'Don't Stare At The Sun' are superb slower, more reflective tracks as is the short 'The Wood Collier's Grave'. Single 'Leave Your Body Behind You' is simply excellent, with a great beat and powerful vocals. 'Before' is a brilliant closer, building beautifully and exploding into noise along the way.

So Richard Hawley has evolved and created a new sound which is captivating and exciting. Certainly one of the best albums of the past year and deserves all the praise it gets.
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on 20 May 2012
I really like the hard guitar based sonic explosions on this album, but at times struggle with the settings of the mix, no more so than on the opening track 'she brings in the sunlight'. Hawleys vocals are buried behind the wall of noise, a good wall of noise I agree, but I would like to hear the lyrics, and especially as the lyrics aren't included in the booklet.

But overall I like the bombastic, even Hendrix style guitar on some tracks.

Track 8 'You leave your body behind you', is in my mind written for Morrissey to cover, and I would love to hear that as the track just fits his current style, let alone see him perform it with Hawley on guitar, or am I just fantasizing?
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on 24 June 2012
I love the quieter more reflective Hawley, and think Roll River Roll is one of the most exquisite pieces of British music created in the last 10 years. Like some folk here, I was therefore pretty surprised to see a few of these new album tracks featured live on Later... I didn't get it at first, and thought Richard Hawley had dumbed down, bought some expensive classic guitars and amps, and become Oasis.

Luckily a friend insisted I hear the album, and I started playing it in my car. Fortunately, I played it loud, and then I got it! You can't really appreciate this album quietly. It has to be played full throttle. I felt stoned listening to it, carried away by its sonic transcendency. It would be great played live or even over the PA at a festival.

This album really is the finest British psychedelic album since Kula Shaker's K. Yes, that band have been dismissed by critics since, but their first album was in my opinion one of the finest English psychedelic rock albums released in the last twenty years. It had similar Harrisonesque elements, modal sitarish drones and other worldliness lyrics.

Hawley is a genius, and has continued in the great British psychedelic tradition with Standing.. There are a few quieter tracks later in the album, but avoid this if you no longer like loud guitar rock. Definitely investigate, however, if you still have room in your heart for this genre but done really intelligently. Nothing like Oasis really.
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on 29 June 2013
I finally got the opportunity to see and hear Richard at the Sydney Town Hall in January this year. One word - brilliant.
He is one of those rare artists who can perform the songs of the studio to a live audience and lose nothing in the translation. This sonically denser album, while a departure from the musical territory of Coles Corner - the album where I discovered him - rewards with every listen. The title track Standing at the Sky's Edge, is as good as anything in his oeuvre, save perhaps 'The Ocean' (from Coles Corner') which was rightfully his encore. If you haven't yet discovered Richard, do yourself a favour and buy it, and then buy his back catalogue. You will be rewarded with music that will remain on your playlist and in your heart for as long as it's ticking.
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on 27 June 2012
Amidst the glorious guitars and throbbing voice, I can hear the distressed sounds of some Richard Hawley fans, lamenting and wailing: Good grief, Richard Hawley's changed! Whatever happened to the gentle and moving soft balladeer? Oh, no! It's different! Well, in the old days I could play him to my mother, but now...

Nothing happened to him; he's still here, and this is just a different pathway that the same man is purposefully striding along. It's all still here: Hawley's gift for melody; that chocolatey voice; the superb arrangements and startling musicianship; the sumptuous production; the evocative and never glib lyrical prowess. And so are some raunchy guitars and a wash of sound. Gosh.

If you're worried, don't be. If you find some of it a bit too loud or not to your taste because it's not 'old Richard', you'll still find *something* on here. Make a playlist or mix-tape (I assume the nay-sayers who dwell in the dark and grimy past will still have a cassette player) of Hawley's previous work and chuck in a few of these tracks for variety and to see, gloriously and obviously, how this is still Richard Hawley in all his majesty.

Just for the record, 'Open Up Your Door' and 'The Ocean', from 'Truelove's Gutter' and 'Cole's Corner' respectively, have the title of most played tracks in my iTunes. They're currently at about 400 plays each, but then I do have them both in a four-track 'Sleep' playlist that I play every night and rarely hear the end of the first track before I'm out like a proverbial candle. So I am an immense fan of Hawley's previous work, but I also love this.

If lyrics are your thing and you are concerned that Hawley has abandoned his poignant and sublime words into the vortex of noisy guitars (as some other reviews here might have you believe), you can be reassured that lyrically, Standing at the Sky's Edge is as sharp, humorous, and truthful as any of Hawley's other recordings. The track 'Seek It' has the following opening lines:

'I had a dream and you were in it
We got naked
Can't remember what happened next -
It was weird.

I had my fortune told and it
Said that I would meet
Somebody with green eyes -
Yours are blue.

If you seek it, you won't find
Another's eyes
So blinded by love
Blinded by love.'

Others here have more than adequately broken down and written about individual tracks, much more eloquently than I could, so I'll just repeat: don't be frightened and take the aural plunge.

I've hardly listened to anything else in a fortnight. In fact, I alternate between this and Rush's new and equally masterful Clockwork Angels. That's different too. But vive la différence.
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on 31 May 2012
You know, I really like this. Haven't heard him before, but I really do like the new album. Only thing is.....I am sure I would enjoy it more if I could either hear what he's singing on some of the tracks, or at the very least be able to read the lyrics which just aren't shown on the album. Not printing the lyrics is a bit precious if you ask me. One of my other favourites, The National, are similarly against doing so - and I think it deprives us punters who pay the way. Googling lyrics just puts you in a world of scammy ringtone sites which isn't fun. Anyway - apart from that i think it's good!
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on 20 January 2013
When I first tuned into Richard Hawley it was all a fey, melodic throwback to the 1950s. Then it went a bit gooey around Coles Corner and Lady's Bridge but when you're in love, you can attune to those sepia tinged albums of a past generation when love was a simpler courtship. Standing at the Sky's Edge is a harder album and it rocks, grinds and slithers its way through the 9 tracks over 50 plus minutes. Many of the tracks are hypnotic, concentrated refrains, punctuated with guitar solos which blow the ears off your head - full tilting, pedal soaked stompers which make you want to open all the windows, turn it up to 11 and shake up the neighbourhood. It feels like ages since a record rocks with its heart on its sleeve. It is different from the previous twang-laden albums but variety is the spice of life and sometimes you need something hot to make you sweat.
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on 23 July 2012
Fell in love with Richards music after listening to Janice Long Show early in the wee hours one dark morning whilst driving back home in 2006,,,She played the haunting Coles Corner,,anyway after purchasing the Album of the fore said Song there has been no looking back,,Been a fan since...
Anyway this Album is totally different and what a great loud sound it is....I have to admit it took a couple of listens but my what a change of grand direction I am looking forward to seeing Richard and his band play these Songs live later in the Year...Standing at the Skys Edge does have a late 60s Retro feel to it....Read one review that it reminds the listener of the Beatles Revolver...I can relate to that though a 2012 Version....Rock on Richard!!!
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Sheffield's Richard Hawley has, up until now, builkt a reputation for slow, heartfelt songsmithying and producing albums of melancholic beauty inspired and informed by life in his hometown. This 2012 release sees the man depart slightly from his tried and true formula into a harder, more textured, rockier sound that allows him to express himself more fully and to really stretch himself out.

It's still an album of melancholic beauty, but with his harder sound there is a feeling of forcefulness behind it that really grabs the attention. It's a great album form a great artist who clearly takes pride in seeing that every note, every word, is necessary and perfect. 5 stars.
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