Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Richard Hawley / Coles Corner / Rating 8.1

Hold up, there's still a moon?

It seems right to run this after the Clientele review with Grettir's mention of Hawley and all.

PFM says: "It's impossible to discuss Sheffield singer and songwriter Richard Hawley without a glance backward in the general direction of strong, dignified vocalists like Roy Orbison, Fred Neil, and Johnny Cash. Hawley himself, former touring guitarist for Pulp and member of the second-tier Britpop band Longpigs, is forthcoming about his music's origins. His influences are not only on his sleeve, they're reflected in his tour schedule and his choice of collaborators. Yes, he sounds like he's listened to a lot of Lee Hazlewood; he's also opening for Nancy Sinatra at a number of dates in England. And not only is the Scott Walker connection undeniable, Hawley has spent time in the studio with the man himself after meeting initially through the Pulp connection."

Also : "Coles Corner is unapologetically retro to the max but it works."

See, what did I tell you. According to PFM it’s ok for everybody else to live in the past, just not Neil Young. (sorry to bring this up again but I couldn’t resist.)

I didn’t have to think twice about this review. There is plenty of room to add onto my record collection but when I own much of the Roy Orbison, Lee Hazlewood, Johnny Cash and Scott Walker catalog there is little reason for me to feel doe-eyed in love with Hawley or for that matter feel desperate to hold onto any of his releases. I am sentimental for this sound, for Hawley’s influences, but playing musical dress up in shoes you don’t fill completely doesn’t earn a permanent spot in my collection.

I know there are plenty of you who feel very differently about his records so please feel free to balance out my disinterest with some positive comments. I don’t believe I have read one negative review of Coles Corner to date so I am prepared to standalone on this one. Even the local rockabilly record store clerk tried to convince me why this record was made for lovin’ but there aren’t enough creepers and Elvis Costello glasses in the world to convince me of this.

I am also not a giant Pulp fan so that is strike two against the artist or me depending on whose side you are on.

PFM neglects to mention the back story to Coles Corner (the title track) and the repeating theme Sheffield landmarks ( as well as being recorded there) but to me this is a more powerful hook than anything else found on this record.

Here is a little quote about it taken from the Mute website:

"The title track, a string-led, alone-in-a-crowd song, sees Hawley’s narrator walk the city at night and name checks an old meeting place for Sheffield, Coles Corner, on the site where John Lewis now stands. Says Hawley “Sheffield’s couples, lovers, friends, mums and dads or whatever, would meet [there]. I’ve always found it quite a romantic notion – how many kids in Sheffield are knocking about as a result of a meeting at Coles Corner?’ ‘I’ll meet you at Coles Corner…’ People still say it, even though it hasn’t existed for years. It only exists, really, in the ether.”

The romantic story behind Coles Corner and the hometown pride of Hawley is endearing but still not enough to keep these ballads haunted by tremelo in any long term rotation on my stereo.

I am a sentimental old fool but I am not falling for this record to prove it.