Sunday, 13 May 2012

Richard Hawley's 'Standing At the Sky's Edge'

Opening with an eeriness, this album moves through the genres of late 90s rock and indie guitar music into it’s own developed record with evident fixed ideas in direction. Influences I think Hawley takes on for this album include; Oasis, Embrace, The Verve and to a certain extent, relatively newcomers to the scene, The Horrors. Hawley is a well established musician, probably best known for his short spell in Pulp, but it is obvious from the start that these British guitar bands are what contributes to the shape and feel of the album. This doesn’t by any means allow for this album to sound all samey-samey. The lazy, British and Faris from the Horrors-esque like vocals really gives it something that makes it stand apart from any average Kasabian, Mark Knopfler or My Morning Jacket record.
Track 1, ‘She Brings The Sunlight’ has a pretty large soundscape. With instrumentation including a pretty brash sitar and violin, the development of the parts work well to create a strong introductory track to the rest for the album. The guitar solo at 4:03 was inevitable, but with a splash of flange, it creates the perfect harmony between the melody of the solo and the sitar in the background.
‘Standing At the Sky’s Edge’ is a chilled out, reminiscent-of-a -Moby track with a soft piano part, lots of reverb, sustained vocals on harmony and a close mic (this also goes for ‘The Wood Colliers Grave’). All in all a very relaxing and unhurried track that deviates (shortly) from direction to a pointless, downwards chordal progression but otherwise the track is memorable and worthy of the album title to summarise the atmosphere. 
‘Seek It’ and ‘Don’t Stare At The Sun’ give a more relaxed feel. With a repetitive riff in 'Seek It', its easy to kick your feet up and relax. ‘Dont Stare at The Sun’ contains less effects on the vocals add uses brushes on drums with an acoustic guitar that soothes the mood. This also goes for ‘Before’ which is excellently produced and has a wonderful build up into the escapism-like-instrumental.
It has to be said that by the time you get to track 7, ‘The Wood Colliers Grave’ you’re ready for a bit of a pick up... Which luckily is indulged by ‘Leave your Body Behind You’. A drum-heavy and instrumentally busier track then the rest of the tracks, providing a colourful side in a minor key. With a simple and catchy bassline, predictable chords and riffs it’s a compact and well written track that I fear is slightly overburdened in production where the (albeit repetitive and relatively simple) vocals are abandoned. But as ever, the guitar part is brought to the forefront from the mid section onwards to rock the heck out of the back-end of the track.
More impressive guitar indulgence can be found in ‘She Brings The Light’, ‘The End of Time Will Bring You Winter’, ‘Before’ and ‘Leave Your Body behind You’. Produced well with effects are essential here. Meanwhile, the continuous movement of the album such as ‘Time Will Bring You Winter’ into ‘Down In the Woods’ shows maturity, strong awareness of music and the needs of the listener to play on moods.
All in all, an enjoyable, well respected album in my opinion. If my Dad was into cooler music I’d happily share this with him, but as his collection consists of Enya, The Corrs and Savage Garden I think I’ll just keep it to myself....(and you guys!)

 Like Richard Hawley? Then why not try Bombay Bicycle Club? The Black Keys or Jack Savoretti? Otherwise Head to my blog for more genres : Vive's Verve.

1 comment:

  1. it is a lovely album, I felt it was an old friend, even on the first listen. The tracks sound even better live - recently saw him play 3 of them - he has an excellent band