Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows
Self-assured, reliable and straight-to-the point; Richard Hawley is the type of quintessential northerner that we admire and these characteristics have been prolific throughout his catalogue of music.
After a brief flirtation with psychedelic rock on 2012’s Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Sheffield’s own and very much-cherished Hawley has returned to the more delicate and soothing music that he has become revered for. And it pays off.
Continuing the trend of naming albums after landmarks of his cherished Sheffield, Hollow Meadows, the former Pulp guitarist’s eighth solo album, is a lush, elegant collection of songs full of elder-statesman-like reassurance that are held together with his earthy and delectably smoky croon.
Opener I Still Want You sets the tone perfectly with its delicious strings creating a morning-like atmosphere and Tuesday 8pm is equally as glorious in its simplicity. Intimacy and delicacy is a frightfully common theme in the brooding Yorkshireman’s music, and is taken to even greater depths on album closer What Love Means, where the protagonist deals with his daughter leaving home in the most personal of ways.
Hawley’s love of 60s garage rock is on show in Heart Of Oak, which with its relentlessly strummed guitars harks to the likes of Waiting For The Man by The Velvet Underground, and on the stomping Which Way, wherein his croon is backed by a towering wall of sound.
That’s not to suggest that Hawley’s fascination with the psychedelic has gone altogether. Some faint sitar can be heard over Nothing Like A Friend, perhaps the album’s most heartening and soothing moment and the strings that accompany The World Looks Down are nothing short of spellbinding.
The consistency and beauty of Hawley’s music is something that has made him something of an understated treasure in Sheffield’s rich musical heritage. With Hollow Meadows supplying us with yet another graceful addition to his arsenal and a gig at Sheffield Arena, his biggest hometown show to date, around the corner, his status won’t be going away any time soon.