- Audio CD (7 May 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Parlophone
- ASIN: B007ITJGGK
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 143 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,530 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Standing At the Sky's Edge CD
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Following the success of his award-winning, hugely acclaimed 2009 album ‘Truelove’s Gutter’, Richard Hawley will release his sixth studio album, ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ on 7th May.
Recorded at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studio in 2011, ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ marks a seismic shift in direction for Hawley. The album is a euphoric, sonic assault on the senses, channelling elements of psychedelia, space rock and ragas with heavy riffs and raw, visceral guitar solos – as well as more familiar, tender moments – which will surprise Hawley’s fans and peers alike.
Exploring lyrical themes of love, loss, redemption and darker areas of the human condition, it’s an album of ominous storytelling and cosmic exploration, sung in Hawley’s rich baritone and soundtracked by an epic musical journey in glorious, menacing Technicolor. In the tradition of Hawley’s previous albums, the title is inspired by an area of Sheffield.
Hawley says of the album, “I wanted to get away from the orchestration of my previous records and make a live album with two guitars, bass, drums and rocket noises!”
'Standing At The Sky's Edge' is set to establish Hawley as one of the UK's greatest, contemporary guitarists.
“…And this one’s for all the men in the house…” After a decade of seducing career couples with the Roy Orbison stylings of several critically acclaimed and, latterly, commercially successful albums, Sheffield’s most unlikely pop star is back, and this time he’s rocking out. It shouldn’t be a shock: Hawley started out in indie band the Longpigs, has worked with Pulp and Robbie Williams, and even contributed the guitar solo to All Saints’ version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Under the Bridge. But to those accustomed to 2009’s Truelove’s Gutter, it may be a little bit unexpected.
Standing at the Sky’s Edge is the sound of Hawley cutting loose, and clearly enjoying it. He breaks us in gently: She Brings the Sunlight opens with understated sitars and strings before launching into a lumbering assault of distortion and Eastern-tinged drones. Its solos might inspire bouts of air guitar from older members of his audience, but Hawley’s hardly guilty of overindulgence, even when the opening lines of the record’s title-track strangely recall Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive. Such eccentricities are fortunately balanced well by his trademark old-school reverb, a steadily growing wall of guitars, and a pace that matches the desolate subject matter: the tale of three doomed individuals with strangely biblical names (Mary, Joseph and Jacob).
Elsewhere he works up a sweat on Down in the Woods, which reduces rock‘n’roll – a subject in which Hawley is well versed – down to its simplest elements much as Spiritualized have done, though at a pace they rarely reach. Recent single Leave Your Body Behind You, meanwhile, is both a meditation on the transitory nature of human life and an almost celebratory plea to adopt the spirit of carpe diem, toning down some of the album’s more psychedelic tendencies in favour of the uplifting sounds of an adult choir.
But Seek It’s tenderness will be familiar to long-term fans, The Wood Collier’s Grave is a moody exercise in mournful nostalgia, and Don’t Stare at the Sun offers one of the most memorable melodies he’s written so far. He saves the best until last, however: Before begins with another three minutes of dreamy introspection before Hawley’s guitars win out once more, securing his status as guitar hero before slipping back into one last passage of shimmering, peaceful beauty. The men are going to love it. But the women will still love Richard Hawley, too…
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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?
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?
'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.
I got this album after hearing him collaborate with Manic Street Preachers, so perhaps my expectations were influenced coming from that.
Overall, each track blends into the next a bit too much and drags on a bit too long. Perhaps more ardent fans will find something immersive here, especially since I've read this album is a lot different from his previous offerings, so I must check those out.
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Pressing sounds pretty goooood too!
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