Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows
Richard Hawley has pulled off the greatest return to form since Lazarus. His previous album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, was a psychedelic mess. Absent were the poignant, everyman ballads of his former incarnations. In their place were squally, sonic indulgences with sometimes indecipherable lyrics. With Hollow Meadows, Richard Hawley has gone back to his roots. Maybe it’s because he got whatever he needed to get out of his system, or maybe it’s because the new album was conceived while he was convalescing after a back problem. Whatever the reason, there’s a much greater calmness to this collection. The bittersweet remembrances on ‘Nothing Like A Friend’ would have graced Late Night Final. The guitar break on ‘Serenade In Blue’ would be happily at home on Coles Corner. And on the longest track, ‘Welcome The Sun’, there’s perhaps a touch of Truelove’s Gutter. The contrast between this album and its predecessor can be heard most clearly in the song ‘Which Way’. On Standing at the Sky’s Edge, the amps would have been turned up to eleven. Here, by contrast, all the fuzz is in the deep background. Up front are the vocals, the lyrics, and the melody. It’s a much better place from which to view his Hawleyness. And a small indication that things are back to their proper order is the presence of the Hicks St. Chip Shop singers on at least one track. Hollow Meadows is a much more authentic album than Standing at the Sky’s Edge. Surely this is the place where Richard Hawley truly belongs.