Welcome to the musical penitentiary. Come close. Closer, just a little bit closer. There’s no need to be nervous. I’m here for your own entertainment. That’s better, now we can start. Tell me what you want, I mean what you really want. Go ahead…no! Not THAT, the other thing. Short thrift is given to filth like that round these parts. One more go, what do you really want?
“Well, mister, I’d like to listen to an album that can fill all my needs. One that can channel the spirits of the artists I love. A sprinkling of Roy Orbison, a hint of Johnny Cash, some Burt Bacharach lyrics…an, an, an almost spiritual album of kaleidoscopic quality! And all made by a man so salt of the earth he was chiseled out of sandpaper.”
Ah, I see. Walk this way. Just behind those red curtains and the chess board floor is a magical gramophone. Use it. You will see.
Approximately 40 minutes later a man pushes the red curtains to the side and claims he’s discovered a soul. All thanks to Richard Hawley and a work of sprawling beauty.
Something Is…! would be, I imagine, the song Independent readers would vote Song Most Likely to be listened to Under the Stars. The guitar twinkles, edging around the bittersweet sentiments of the song. As album openers go it could really be a serious contender for most perfect opening track ever.
Sheffield has given us many things for which we are thankful. Steel, Sean Bean, Gary Megson, Pulp and er…Prince Naseem Hamed. All wonderful things. I’ll take a stab in the dark and say that it’s not a place connected with romance though. Well, now it is. Baby, You’re My Light is just that. The big stuffed toy you just won her at the fair, the pitcher you both drunk from, the bed you both share.
Love of My Life with it’s sparse musical accompaniment orders us to sit up and take notice of Hawley’s voice. A rich, textured, velvety 40 a day voice. If smoking was ever to be condoned it would be so it could produce a voice like this. I mean, just imagine if Pixie Lott smoked she could be, like, mega important.
A little ditty known as The Nights Are Cold takes us away from the more intense odes to love that litter the album. Though not as direct as the rest of the album it’s still a good song.
By Can You Hear The Rain, Love I’ve fallen in love with the bloke myself. It has that working class beauty going on throughout the record, the chippy in the rain is more romantic than Chez Marco’s in the warm, the walk home is better than the taxi, the British Darts Organisation is more beautiful than the PDC, y’know? That’s the kind of vibe the track gives me. Instrument wise, Hawley plays his guitar as if stroking his hands through ‘Love’s’ hair, whoever she may be.
Someone phone Sun Records! Get this man a record deal! What do you mean they no longer exist? Good job he already has a record contract then, eh? The shortest track on the album Lonely Night is possibly one of the most beautiful, if only for the deeply satisfying humming.
Lets go to the beach. See the waves lapping gently against the rocks? That’s the sound of Precious Sight, a beautiful, tender image gently being eroded. A postcard image. Simply, an extraordinarily beautiful thing.
No Way Home is straight out of a Clint Eastwood film, I couldn’t possibly pick a worse one but it reminds me of Every Which Way But Loose. This isn’t a critique but this is the majesty of this album, a piece of connected works but each one slightly different from the other.
Cry A Tear For The Man On The Moon belongs on one of those ambient moments in Twin Peaks. The bits where James and Donna are cavorting. The most spectacular dreamscape on this album, Hawley’s voice is so wonderfully soothing. They should prescribe this kind of stuff at the Doctors to cure emotional problems.
Hang on but that last song was so beautiful surely Long Black Train can’t be as, if not more beautiful? It can bloody well try. I could literally gush all over this album. How does he do it? Seriously? I think I’ve run out of things to say. Words are irrelevant. Just listen and be amazed.
Hawley leaves us on The Light at the End of The Tunnel an instrumental that is also of Twins Peak-esque quality. In all honesty I couldn’t praise this album highly enough, it’s pretty much one of the most perfect listening experiences I’ve ever had. The album plays like a movie – it carries all the pathos of a British Kitchen Sink drama and all the mysterious, smoky beauty of a French Film Noir. Hawley is the Scott Walker, the Serge Gainsbourg, the Elliott Smith of the turn of the century. All of them rolled into one. The beauty housed in Late Night Final is quite astonishing. I doubt I could recommend anything more highly.
You can listen to Late Night Final (as recommended by comment leaver Shaun) here.
Next week Rain Machine an album I’m really looking forward too so expect me to gush some more.
Hopefully this should be a regular Thursday/Friday thing now. Thanks.