Richard Hawley: Further review – all swagger and croon

(BMG)

Horizons are broadening for Richard Hawley. Twenty years into his solo career, he’s become perhaps the most unlikely musician yet to make the jump to the stage, with his pastoral psychedelic album from 2012, Standing at the Sky’s Edge becoming an acclaimed musical. His eighth album too – the first not to be named for a Sheffield environ – pushes forward; not with dramatic leaps of style like Sky’s Edge, but with an irrepressible energy. Its best songs revel in a certain swagger, like Alone, with its ballsy, skanking riff and Elvis Costello attitude, or Is There a Pill, whose blend of robust rock and sky-reaching strings recalls his former collaborators the Manics. Pick of the pack is Galley Girl, which applies Springsteenian growl and grit to a British ballad-style narrative of love and escape.

There’s still, of course, plenty of room for Hawley’s softer side, with gently ambling balladry like the title track, just waiting to soundtrack a bittersweet BBC drama starring Sue Johnston, or the dreamy country drift of Not Lonely. If there are no huge surprises here, Further offers a punchy synthesis of country croon, psych-rock riffs and snappy songwriting that proves South Yorkshire’s stoic son has plenty of miles left to run.

Watch the video for My Little Treasures.

Contributor

Emily Mackay

The GuardianTramp

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