Coles Corner, the follow up to previous albums on Setanta, Late Night Final (2001) and Lowedges (2003), was recorded at Yellowarch Studio in Sheffield, singer/songwriter Hawley's hometown and is a beautiful album, filled with nostalgia, emotion and romance. The album's orchestral splendour sits alongside earthy rock and roll with songs that are by turns intimate and soaring. Richard Hawley insists his mind is full only with 'confused thoughts and Guinness'. But when he sings, he does so in a voice that's deep and low, and does not lie. His merciful, wise songs tell of the heart's truths as seen in the dark, revealed by moonlight. Thom Yorke (Radiohead) says... 'Richard Hawley is all I'm listening to at the moment' and Scott Walker says... 'Richards voice is up there with the all time greats'...Mute. 2005.
Richard Hawley spent the 90s primarily as a guitarist with Pulp and Longpigs, and contributing in-studio for the likes of Beth Orton and Robbie Williams. The 21st century, however, has seen Hawley make his way as a stellar solo artist. A loose tone poem/ode about a specific, well-traveled locale in his native Sheffield, Coles Corner
is dense with songs that manage to be both weighty in tone, yet airy in execution. Sung in a thrilling baritone that falls somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash, his lyrics scrutinize that ghostly intersection of places and people, and how little pieces of ourselves we leave behind accumulate to form a kind of psychic footprint. The record bleeds with heart-on-the-sleeve sincerity that has nothing at all to do with indie music's recurring fondness for bitter irony. "The Ocean" is a prime example, filled with slow, sweeping motifs and unabashed grace. Hawley doesn't forget his guitar, breaking in with thick, messy riffs on songs like "Born Under a Bad Side" and slide atmospherics on "I Sleep Alone" and "Hotel Room." It's a satisfying piece of work, and while it cements Hawley's reputation as a skilled songwriter and musician it also exposes him as a world-class hopeless romantic. Matthew Cooke