Richard Hawley - Coles Corner

There's something really special about Richard Hawley, but you have to really give him your time to appreciate it properly.



Sometimes beauty can be overwhelming. Like staring into the Grand Canyon, for example. Sure, you know it's impressive, you tell yourself that you're looking at one of the most awe inspiring sights on God's planet, but it's just too big, too beautiful and too overwhelming for you to comprehend, so your eyes try to trick you. They let your brain realize that you're looking at something big, but they won't let you appreciate just how big the canyon is. After all, the Grand Canyon is just a bloody big hole in the ground. But what a hole! Your eyes try to tell you that it's nothing special, but it is. It really is. Take a trip to the canyon floor one time and look up, then you'll get an idea of the size, the scale and the sheer immensity of the place. You need to experience the canyon to truly appreciate it. Delve a little deeper, take some time and discover just how magical a place it really is.


I could say the same thing about Richard Hawley's new album Cole's Corner. Rescued from drugs, drink and a wandering minstrel lifestyle by Pulp a few years back, this scruffy looking mister from Sheffield plays the guitar like a master, but whilst I absolutely adore his work with Jarvis and Co. the stuff he's produced on his own since that band disappeared from the public consciousness (a crying shame it is too) is quite simply wonderful. Like I said, beauty can be overwhelming and Cole's Corner is nothing if not overwhelmingly beautiful.


It took me a few listens to truly understand how magnificent that beauty is though. When I first heard the title track I thought, "Yep, that's Richard Hawley, the guy who'd like to be Scott Walker." Good aspirations to have, I thought and felt rather pleased about finding such a nice little tune; whereas now, after a few listens, I'm thinking, "Wow! That's Richard Hawley, he's the new Scott Walker," and that's a much better moniker for me to give him. He could also be Sheffield's answer to Johnny Cash too. Seriously. Before you walk away in disgust, scoffing at my hyperbole, take a listen to Just Like The Rain and try telling me that that song wasn't meant for the Man in Black?


Hawley's voice puts me in mind of Scott Walker, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and Leonard Cohen. He doesn't particularly sound like one of them in particular, but rather an amalgamation of them all. Hawley has the confidence and clarity of Sinatra, the charm of Walker, the growl of Cohen and the deep, harsh voice of reason that Cash could chill you to the bone with. All the way through this album, he sings as if he's about to cry, but with an aged quality that makes him seem some forty years older than he actually is. Either that or it's the Hank Marvin type guitar work in Hotel Room, I'm not sure.


The songs sound timeless, or rather mature and well aged. The lyrics don't seem to belong to a specific time and place, like his old band mate Jarvis Cocker's used to, but rather they seem eternal and as if they've been around for ever.


There's something really special about Richard Hawley, but you have to really give him your time to appreciate it properly. I mean, a lot of the music I listen to isn't what you could call, impeccably played. In fact, a lot of my favourite artists can't even sing or play their instruments very well at all, but everyone knows a class act when they hear it. Well Richard Hawley is a class act. Putting Cole's Corner on your cd player is like welcoming musical royalty into your house. Truly, truly beautiful, this is a class above.


Words : Damian Leslie