tue 25/06/2024

Album: Richard Hawley - In This City They Call You Love | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Richard Hawley - In This City They Call You Love

Album: Richard Hawley - In This City They Call You Love

Deep in the heart of Sheffield

Timeless not timely - trademark HawleyDeep in the Heart of Sheffield

Hot on the heels of his Olivier Award-winning musical Standing at the Sky's Edge, comes In This City They Call You Love, the 10th solo album from Richard Hawley, proud son of Sheffield, and it’s a peach. With echoes of early Elvis (the slow numbers, like “Can’t Help Falling in Love”) and Roy Orbison, it feels almost instantly familiar.

You sink into it as if into the arms of an old friend, or a comfy sofa – at least once you’re past the faintly menacing opening track, “Two for His Heels”.

For me at least, the songs that really grab you are the slow, moody ballads, among which “Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow” is the high point, built around a casual acoustic strum and an insistent five-note Duane Eddy-style riff on his Gretsch. It’s a train which takes us deep into country-rockabilly territory. Hank Williams would be proud. “I’ll Never Get Over You” is all pain and anguish, Hawley’s resonant voice, all echo, gliding effortlessly over drums and guitar. No one can equal the spine-chilling style of The Big O of course, but this is a real goodie.

“Do I Really Need To Know” inhabits similar emotional territory, but here the angst is given a bossa nova beat and there’s a guest vocal by his old band-mate Jarvis Cocker. “When the Lights Go Out” is nicely retro, and the ending floats away into the ether. “Tis Night”, the album’s closer, is a melancholy number again redolent of Elvis and Orbison. The voice is way out front, above a gently picked guitar. Elegant strings enter as the song quietly builds, adding texture and atmosphere.

Quiffed and Brylcreemed, and with his trademark horn-rimmed specs, Hawley is a figure straight out the 1950s, the era he loves so much. The music, like his look, may beloing to another era, but it's timeless. Music this good doesn’t date.

Liz Thomson's website

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