Richard Hawley – Further
Richard Hawley sets his controls for the heart of optimism on Further
There's something warm at the heart of Richard Hawley's eighth studio album Further. Sure, dark clouds gather on rocking opener Off My Mind and the rolling thunder of Galley Girl, but overall the music and messages are optimistic. The likes of Not Lonely and Emilina Says are classic Hawley balladry and there's plenty of that – but Further is a record that the Sheffield star has never made before. It moves at a brisk pace, songs don't outstay their welcome and there's a general feeling that the train is leaving the station. 'Time is not your own / Well it is behind those doors' he sings in the former and it's a standout moment on a record full of them.
In the album's accompanying press release, Hawley is quoted as saying: "I really wanted to challenge myself to try to keep things relatively uptempo and keep the songs to about three minutes long – I was asking myself 'can you still get your message across like a bullet?' It’s quite a tough question to ask." It is, especially for someone who's been there, done it and got the stage show, but Further proves that Hawley is still in touch with the muse and infected with song.
Time Is moves like Time Out of Mind-era Dylan and Hawley's beautiful baritone has never sounded better. It's true that the songs are mostly short and sweet, but Hawley has managed to muster all his usual tricks and some new ones into this music: electric guitars rage, acoustics roll, harmonicas wail and drums skip over the ocean like stars. By the time we get to the lilting loveliness of Midnight Train, the record has worn its way into your soul and crept up on you like a warm summer's night.
His best yet? Perhaps. For the first time ever, the Sheffield hero has chosen not to name the record after a local landmark close to his heart – the irony being, he's never sounded more at home.
Listen to: My Little Treasures, Galley Girl, Time Is, Midnight Train