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Richard Hawley – Richard Hawley Review

Mini albums make little sense. Selling artists short and declaring a particular number of tracks as full-length is backwards. Pixey had to deal with that on Dreams Pains and Paper Planes. Richard Hawley detailed it too on his debut EP, Richard Hawley. That self-titled experience holds up well and is shy a few minutes of what can be considered a full-length record. When does an album become an album? Fully formed notations from both Pixey and Hawley have been pushed back as though they are not quite ready for the main event. They clearly are, and Hawley’s first outing from 2001 is proof of that. Considering those bonus tracks are lingering underneath too, the debut from Hawley is in fact longer than his most recent work on Further. 

One of those is clearly the better of the two, and it is of course the one that features Hawley clad in double denim on the front cover, snapping and sliding his guitar into motion. Coming Home showcases the talent Hawley would soon shore up, a delicate and anxious introduction that sees the soon-to-be Sheffield legend warble through a love song. But underneath that deep breath comes a charm and the usual run of symbolism that Hawley would rely on for as long as he reigns as a fine chamber pop artist. Familiarity with the tone and vocalisation Hawley brings to the table helps, but what a place to start. Soulful renditions of early workings make for a delicate and delightful warm-up to the towering Late Night Final. 

Naked in Pitsmoor is a grand showcase of what was to come. Sunflower and Caravan may be somewhat forgettable and wavering, but the powerful perfection Hawley would later enlist is right there in its early form on the crooning desires of feeling broken and confused by a third party. Naked in Pitsmoor is by far one of the best Hawley tracks of all, let alone of the EP. Bonus tracks prove what was always lingering on the mind. Seven tracks were not enough to whet the appetite. Greedy fans can fill their boots with short and sweet Caned as well as cult-loved Cheap Spanish Wine. An instrumental beauty, tucked away in the bonus tracks of a debut EP. Fascinating that release style may be, it is a stunning shame Sick Pay never got the credit it was due. 

But that is the case for Hawley as an artist. Never quite receiving the capitulation and adoration he deserves but steadying the course and continually marking himself as a firm hand on the guitar. Shimmering results leave the Late Night Final and Cole’s Corner beginnings right there for all to see. They were not flukes of crooner stylings or adaptations of his influences but assured and confident telling of his own abilities. Downright shocking bits and pieces that Hawley experiments with here, the EP closer and bonus track Aran Loop is a confident showcase of sliding steel. A debut like no other, and it just goes to show how much quality Hawley had and still has. He powers through an EP, then pushes out a debut record just months later, heading back to his self-titled start is a treat though. It is always nice to see where the formations began.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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