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4.3 out of 5 stars
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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 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 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 2 September 2014
A great album, but what seems to be a little more cheerful than some of his previous work.

Richard Hawley remains, in my eyes, as one of the better musicians we have in the country right now. This has got some more melodic songs, but they still share the nostalgic and melancholy that makes me love his music.
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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 17 August 2013
Richard Hawley is one of life's best kept secrets. His albums are terrific, thoughtful, well constructed, written and beautifully produced. He has a fantastic voice that is soothing and calming - a great listen. This is not his best album but is measured against some outstanding work.
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on 18 July 2012
I'm a Richard Hawley fan, and have been for a few years now. This album is not typical of his work but a refreshing change. You can almost tell that he enjoyed making this album, as usual the lyrics suit his voice and style of singing. You usually feel a warm dark blanket covering you when you listen to his previous albums, this one blows it clean off. I've enjoyed listening to it and i hope you will to, go for it.
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on 13 December 2012
The new album has a harder edge than the likes of Coles Corner but, as a result, seems to have greater depth and variety. For Hawley, some tracks are pretty hard rocking and there's some great guitar work throughout, yet there are still beautiful melodies mixed in. If the usual meloncholy had been used even more sparingly, I would have given the album 5 stars.
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on 21 October 2013
Cant recommend this enough, Richard Hawleys psychedelic masterpiece in a world where psychedelic is so often misappropriated - Stand out tracks are many and Staring At The Sun never ever wears out its welcome. Just buy it and love it - you surely will.
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