Richard Hawley Coles Corner

Sheffield, England’s Richard Hawley has come a long way since his days as a member of Longpigs and Pulp’s post-1998 guitarist. His two previous solo albums Late Night Final and Lowedges properly set the stage for this grandiose and accomplished album of crooner folk-pop. He has an uncanny flair for channelling the spirit of romantic balladeers like Scott Walker or Gene Pitney, but also seems to tip his hat to Johnny Cash’s simple storytelling style. Having begun his musical career in 1981, Hawley is no rookie, and it really shows. His voice is as smooth as velvet and comes across naturally, where others would be reduced to forcing it. Listening to the album, it’s hard to imagine that several of the tracks were cut in just one take. Hawley’s vocal finesse is well matched to both the epic and the minimal, and it’s as if these are two albums merged into one. Having said this, it sounds far from disjointed. The transitions between sweeping orchestration and stripped down acoustic guitar tracks flow neatly without any hiccups. A true romantic wining and dining album, this is his strongest work to date. (Mute)