Richard Hawley: Hollow Meadows

review hawley x1 cong

Hawley treads a thin line between sublime songs that are works of art – as good as any music you will hear, anywhere – and more pedestrian tracks that are just ok. Although his earlier solo albums were mostly gentle, anachronistic crooners the last was more psychedelic and this new one is a mix between the two.
There’s no correlation between the speed of a song and its level of greatness. Opener I Still Want You is a gentle start but the slow The World Looks Down is beautiful, with a string melody that borrows from Prince’s Strawberry Parade. The jangly, psychedelic Which Way is one of the songs that make you think Hawley is the greatest songwriter alive, and the same is true of the slow and dreamy Serenade Of Blue. Also outstanding are the slow 50s-style ballad Nothing Like A Friend and Welcome The Sun.
The single Heart Of Oak is ok but while the most approachable song on the album is also, musically at least, out of kilter with the rest. Less effective are songs such as Long Time Down, Sometimes I Feel and Tuesday pm.
Lyrically, it’s fairly optimistic, talking of still loving, wanting to see and standing by hearts of oak, and there’s less yearning and nostalgia than in the past. (Less nostalgia than in the past?). The tradition of naming albums after Sheffield locations continues, though Hollow Meadows appears to be desirable rural location off the A57 before you drop into Sheffield (at least according to Zoopla) rather than a grimy street corner.
We think the strength and weakness of Hawley is that his songs are so highly personal. To him, they’re probably like little birds he holds in his hand and then releases into the world. To the rest of us some are lovely canaries and a joy to behold, others are more akin to sparrows. A slow but pleasurable album.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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