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Richard Hawley Hollow Meadows

The only way to describe Richard Hawley’s serenading voice is to use a clumsy metaphor about it bringing you a sensation similar to being huddled by a warm fire on a cold winter’s day. But there is something about the local lad’s crooning that makes you think of Sheffield - familiar and welcoming.

It’s no surprise that new album Hollow Meadows evokes these feelings when listening to it. Three years have passed since Hawley’s last effort, Standing At Sky’s Edge, where he took a psychedelic rock route to critical acclaim. It was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, the second nomination of his career.

While it may have been a while since we heard any new music, Hawley’s aware of this and makes a nod to the fact in the opening track, ‘I Still Want You’, with the first line: “Sorry I’ve been away for so long / I just needed a little time.”

His eighth album draws on all his experience of previous efforts, coming across almost as a compilation album. That’s not to say it’s a greatest hits or that songs have been repeated, but the mixtures of styles and sounds he has tried and tested throughout his career are all apparent.

There are the more upbeat tracks like ‘Heart Of Oak’, with a sound reminiscent of Sky’s Edge, and some great individual efforts, as if they were B-sides from Truelove’s Gutter, like ‘What Love Means’ and ‘Welcome The Sun’. Without changing too much, Hawley delivers another great LP, testament to his consistency, which hasn’t dropped a bit.

Some artists need to change their style dramatically to avoid a monotonous, recycled repeat, but there are those who fall into the category of 'if it isn’t broke'. Hawley falls into the latter with Hollow Meadows, another solid effort which makes his homecoming gig next month all the more exciting.

Brady Frost

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