Richard Hawley‘s a crooner but not in the way that word suggests, he’s more of a crooner in the indie world and with this new release, even more so. With velvety smooth vocals and a landmark record, suggestive of moving forward, Further is a treat to enjoy, if you are fan of the skilful and traditional song writing talent of Mr Hawley.
First LP released on BMG, Further laments a change in label from Parlophone as well as a movement from rooting his music so deeply into Sheffield’s heritage, it’s the first album not titled after a connotation of the city. Richard Willis Hawley is an English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer often considered the bard of Sheffield. After his first band Treebound Story broke up, Hawley then went onto become a member of Britpop band Longpigs in the 1990s. After that broke up in 2000, he later joined Pulp, led by his friend Jarvis Cocker, for a short time, before relinquishing himself and deciding to go solo. As a solo musician, Hawley has released seven studio albums. He has been nominated for a Mercury prize twice and once for a Brit Award. He has collaborated with Lisa Marie Presley, Arctic Monkeys, Manic Street Preachers, Elbow and Paul Weller.
Further is the eighth album reinforcing his talent and reminding us that yes, he is still writing and recording, progress and evolving with every record. And would you believe five albums ago that we would see him write and perform a musical, but a musical based on a collection of his songs opens in his hometown of Sheffield, which commemorates twenty years of him performing as a solo artist, writing love letters to this city.
Co-produced by Colin Elliot and Shez Sheridan, the production values on Further are suave and the tracks delightful. Short and direct, only forty minutes in length it is surprising for Hawley, wonderfully mastered and edited. The opening track and first single, the throbbing thrasher Off My Mind, sets the bar for the rest, the track both genteel and rocking. My Little Treasures is a stunner of a track, nostalgically delving into the more hopeful things in life, with harmonies not expected from Hawley.
Emilina, an opulent ballad reminds us of the troubadour spirit of Mr Hawley, along with the Springsteen-esque Midnight Train and closer, and Doors, which finishes the record rather nicely. However, the track that demonstrates his lyrical tendencies for me is Not Lonely, a stunning rocky lullaby, which makes you feel precisely that, whilst listening to this eleven track record.
A reflective record, pinpointing this musician’s development and maturity, let’s hope we hear more of this from Richard Hawley.
Further is out on 7th June, via BMG.