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Richard Hawley: Standing At The Sky’s Edge

Sleepy Sheffield crooner discovers psychedelic goldmine.

Having established himself as the nation’s favourite middle-aged crooner, one could forgive Richard Hawley – making his major label debut here – to deliver an album of yet more string-drenched and Guinness-soaked melodies.

However, album title aside (which yet again is a nod to a Sheffield landmark – this time the infamous asbo-riddled district of Skye Edge), we find ourselves in very foreign territory indeed.

No longer South Yorkshire’s answer to Elvis Presley, the orchestra has left the building – the void filled on opening track She Brings The Sunlight by backwards guitar, sitar, rock god solo action and a strung-out lysergic vocal. Here – as on the title track, Time Will Bring You Winter and the fabulous closing tracks Leave Your Body Behind You and Before – there are echoes of Love, The Doors and 60s sonic explorers such as The Chocolate Watchband.

It is to Hawley’s credit however that he hasn’t let these psych-rock influences completely swallow his style – instead he has stumbled upon a wholly unique sound that could conceivably see him recast as Britain’s first cosmic teddy boy. Easing the transition are a pair of tremulous, bittersweet and excellently crafted ballads – Seek It and Don’t Stare At The Sun – sat plum in the middle of this new voyage of discovery.

However you cut it, an epic departure.