Sheffield icon Richard Hawley is back with his eighth studio album ‘Further’. His previous offering ‘Hoillow Meadow’, laid bare many personal anxieties for the world to see. This time out, Hawley consciously decided to make something more positive and more direct. Will the charm dissipate? Will it be contrived?
Hawley’s attempt to be positive, attempt a heavier sound at times but, lack the raw excitement of youthful rock n roll can. ‘Alone’, whilst pleasant, has a tired ‘Easy Money’ (Johnny Marr) feel to it. ‘Galley Girl’, nods to Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’ classic Rich Woman’ but again fails ignite the devil. However, on album opener ‘Off My Mind’ slides into a dirty rock n roll groove to endlessly admire. ‘Time Is’, finds a sweet spot with its psyche riffs and exhilarating harmonica on this reflective look at the passing of time. It has a honesty that befits Hawley’s emotive soul far better.
Hawley’s poetic soul is where the album thrives. Sheffield’s Blake is at his best when wandering the streets of his mind alone. ‘Is There A Pill?’, musically, combines the romanticism of ‘Coles Corner’ and the dangerous guitars of ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’. Lyrically, it’s a message of love to himself and the family of a friend who was lost tragically to suicide. It’s a remarkable feat to deliver the lines ‘Is there a pill / To untwist my heart / And help me sever feeling shame at being apart?’ with such warmth.
Hawley’s ability to sprinkle stardust over his ballads keeps coming on ‘Not Lonely’ and ‘Midnight Train’. The former being a hopeful ode to his children. Yearning to see them enjoy the benefits his generation did. Amid the Tory leadership race where liars and Islamophobes battle NHS dismantlers and Austerity masturbators, the poignancy is somewhat elevated. Meanwhile, ‘Midnight Train’ sparkles like The Byrds’ ‘Ballad of the Easy Rider’ in a British spring time.
Not everything lands on ‘Further’ but, few can match the beauty of the highs Hawley can still summon in his early 50s. When he enters into his reflective and poetic groove, it’s impossible not to fall in love with him all over again.
Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here: