Album: Richard Hawley <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Coles Corner, MUTE
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The Independent Culture

Like Lowedges in 2003, Richard Hawley's Mute debut was named after a location in his home-town Sheffield - in this case, a long-gone department store by which courting couples would meet. It's an appropriate title for an album steeped in watercolour tints of bygone romance and hankering after escape. Hawley's retro-schmaltz leanings are typified by the title track, where MOR strings surround his baritone croon as he yearns for an evening liaison to go on forever: "Hold back the night from us/ Cherish the light for us". The prevailing musical tone throughout is Fifties pastiche, with the plodding piano triplets of "Hotel Room" adorned with swooning "Miserlou" guitar, and "(Wading Through) The Waters of My Time" sounding like some obscure early Johnny Cash B side, with its semi-spoken vocals and expert replication of the Sun Studios echo. Elsewhere, there are echoes of the Sixties in the delicate web of guitar filigree that supports "Just Like the Rain", and also in "I Sleep Alone", a folksy shuffle built around the counter-melody hook to "Then I Kissed Her". But although Coles Corner is an accomplished piece of work, its subtleties may struggle in a pop scene dominated by the broad, anthemic strokes of Coldplay and their imitators.