Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows (2015) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 49:08 minutes | 526 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | @ Parlophone UK

Following the success of his hugely acclaimed 2012 Top Three album, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, Richard Hawley will release his eighth studio album Hollow Meadows via Parlophone Records.

Recorded at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studio in spring 2015, Hollow Meadows sees Hawley return to the classic, sophisticated songwriting and subtle arrangements that made him so widely loved and revered in the first place. Meditating on such themes as ageing, fallibility and relationships, much of the album shares a brooding, yet wistful and romantic atmosphere in keeping with early albums Late Night Final and Lowedges, as well as touches of 2009’s Truelove’s Gutter (‘Nothing Like A Friend’) and Standing At The Sky’s Edge (‘Which Way’, ‘Welcome The Sun’).

Hollow Meadows is an album full of exceptional songwriting, beautiful melodies and harmonies, and some of the finest lyrics and vocals Hawley as ever written and recorded. It will further cement his reputation as one of Britain’s greatest songwriters of the past 15 years.

In 2012, songwriter Richard Hawley released Standing At The Sky’s Edge, an album that proved a stark contrast to his earlier recordings, making a hard-rocking turn at psychedelia. In Great Britain it struck a collective chord and reached number three on the charts. Hollow Meadows, co-produced with guitarist Shez Sheridan and Colin Elliot, doesn’t follow suit so much as integrate some of those sounds with those explored on his earliest records, in particular Late Night Final and Lowedges. Hawley wrote most of these songs at home in Sheffield while recuperating from a broken leg and a slipped disc. As is his penchant, this is titled for a local destination: his ancestral home, “Auley Meadows,” is where his ancestors resided between the 14th and 17th centuries. These 11 songs are direct, intimate, and more often than not delivered in first person singular no matter the topic, be it romance, disillusionment, aging, relationships, or vulnerability — or a daughter leaving home. Arrangements are widely varied but always precisely — often sparsely — applied. They can offset brooding lyrics with bright textures and simple backdrops. The album’s most romantic track is opener “I Still Want You.” The lilting, classic pop melody ever so gently rocks, and is shaded by tasteful strings and dreamy, reverb-laden guitars. Hawley’s vocal comes from his demo (as do several other tracks here), and actually cracks his silvery baritone: “…We can move our bodies like a twist of smoke/Come let us shake like the flame…” This flaw conveys the simmering passion in the words and music with restraint. Elsewhere, the spacious, gauzy “The World Looks Down,” the crooning pop of “Serenade of Blue,” the cello- and piano-based “Tuesday,” and the classy, mellow “Nothing Like a Friend” (with a Rhee Kee super bass played by Jarvis Cocker), revisit the early rock melodies and harmonies Hawley showcased on those early solo records and developed later — albeit with more adventurous instrumentation, airier textures, and more poignant lyrics. Folk legend Martin Simpson paints “Long Time Down” with a resonator slide guitar and bright banjo amid a chorus of female backing vocals. Despite its sunny delivery, the narrative depicts a dangerous co-dependent relationship. While “Which Way” recalls Standing At The Sky’s Edge, the gospel-style backing chorus lends the fuzzy, distorted rocker a spiritual heft. The other uptempo cut here is “Mighty Oak,” a catchy tribute to folksinger Norma Waterson, with a singalong chorus. Commencing as a shuffle it builds and turns into a screaming guitar frenzy — without sacrificing its hook. Hawley doesn’t showcase particular themes on Hollow Meadows as he has in the past. Instead, he turns his light squarely on the craft of writing and delivering great songs. For those who made his acquaintance on the Mute albums — Cole’s Corner, Lady’s Bridge, Truelove’s Gutter — or even Standing At The Sky’s Edge, this loose-knit set just might be revelatory. -AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

1 I Still Want You 04:06
2 The World Looks Down 03:44
3 Which Way 02:58
4 Serenade Of Blue 04:09
5 Long Time Down 05:39
6 Nothing Like A Friend 05:04
7 Sometimes I Feel 05:35
8 Tuesday pm 03:30
9 Welcome The Sun 06:17
10 Heart Of Oak 04:27
11 What Love Means 03:39