Richard Hawley: Standing At The Sky’s Edge

Sleepy Sheffield crooner discovers psychedelic goldmine.

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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.

Johnny Dee

Johnny Dee is a freelance copywriter, creative and journalist. He's been published The Times, The Independent, Q  NME, Q, Smash Hits, The Word as well as in The Guardian, writing pieces for G2, online and The Guide, where he edits the weekly back page feature Infomania. He's got a long history as a music journalist and is also fond of sport (currently contributing to Runner's World and FourFourTwo).