Album: Richard Hawley, Standing At the Sky's Edge (Parlophone)
Psychedelia and sunshine fuel a classy reinvention
Richard Hawley has upped his game considerably on his first album for Parlophone, leaving behind his urbane, rockabilly-tinged retro-nuevo style for a full-blooded immersion in ringing psychedelic rock. It's totally unexpected, and completely winning.
"She Brings the Sunlight" sets the tone, with slow, dense layers of fuzz guitars, electric sitar and Eastern-flavoured strings swirling modally around a keyboard monotone motif, as Hawley pays tribute to his beloved in his warm baritone. Replete with snarling guitar solos, it's powerfully redolent of the acid-fired heyday of Hendrix and The Beatles, while the melodic affinity with "She Moves Through the Fair" anchors the song within the Anglo-Irish folk tradition. It's as powerful an opener as you'll hear all year, establishing a tone and direction on which the subsequent songs build.
Vibrato organ drones set a mood of mournful fatalism in the title track, on which the extremes to which the poor and desperate are driven are related with calm anger. The galloping "Down in the Woods" ups the tempo, though the message – getting away from the glare of technology and finding oneself amidst nature – extends a bucolic theme.
Elsewhere, the dreamlike "Seek It" and misty "Don't Stare At the Sun" offer subtly beautiful affirmations of affection, the former tenderly rendered, the latter protective and rooted, before "Leave Your Body Behind You" restores the opening psychedelic surge with a swirling arrangement streaked with chiming guitar lines. "Before" closes the album with another poignant love song, this one featuring tendrils of ebow slide guitar from Hawley's neighbour, virtuoso folk guitarist Martin Simpson. It's as steadfast a sentiment as you could wish for, a confirmation of devotion surmounting everything: "It won't be me who sets you free/ It won't be me who closes the door on before."
Download: She Brings the Sunlight; Standing At the Sky's Edge; Don't Stare At the Sun; Leave Your Body Behind You; Before
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?