- 31 May 19
The Return Of Good King Richard
As far as I’m concerned, the words ‘Richard' and ‘Hawley’ on the front of a record have constituted a mark of quality ever since 2005’s cast-iron classic, and Mercury-nominated, Coles Corner. With Further, the title referring to the bus the Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters had their acid-fuelled cross-country hooley on in 1964, Hawley was determined to keep it upbeat and tight – “if it was a slice of bacon, there’d be no fat on it at all.” It breaks with tradition by not being named after a Sheffield landmark, but his impeccable strike rate remains untarnished.
The album indeed sports the promised upbeat selections – the raucous opener, which our man describes as the sound of “playing like tomorrow may never happen”, ‘Off Of My Mind’, the soaring ‘Alone’, the instant sing along ‘Gallery Girl’, and that great bit in ‘Time Is’ where the harmonica comes wailing in. But it is the more sedate songs that really shine. Try the absolutely gorgeous, and twelve years in the making, ‘My Little Treasures’ – who doesn’t like “cold beer in warm places” - or the summer breeze of the title track. What about the beautiful tremolo in ‘Not Lonely’, the reverb-heavy ‘Midnight Train’ or the sweet and gentle pop of the closing ‘Doors’? Hawley is right, there is no fat.
Long-time fans might remember ridiculous media grumbling about Hawley’s “retro” approach when he first broke through, as if it were some kind of flaw. Rather, it allows him to craft records as complete and satisfying as this one, by turns as warm as a lover’s embrace and as tough as the steel his hometown is famed for. Deo adjuvante labor proficit.