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   Thursday, May 22, 2003  
There really ought to have been a big old mirrorball hanging from the Scala's ceiling Monday night dappling those assembled in the same faded dancehall nostalgia as that which billowed out from Richard Hawley and his band up on stage. After one of the fouler May days of recent memory, reallyrather was in two minds right up to the last as to whether to bother trekking to darkest King's Cross for this one. Arriving just as Hawley came on, any doubts were quickly washed away by the soothing sonorous refrain of opener Coming home. The first song he ever recorded as a solo artist, then as now it set the mood for all that followed. If someone were to dismiss 'the Hawley Sound' - it's definitely a Sound, and it's just the one - as, say, Bobby Goldsboro-meets-the theme from Tales of the Unexpected this blog couldn't really muster much of a defence. Over the course of two-and-a-half albums the music hasn't strayed an inch from the gorgeously assured recreation of Croonerville, USA (by way of Sheffield). Almost every other song sounds like 'the last dance' from the Friday night hop c.1960.
Not that Hawley was around then, of course, but his apparently inspirational (and musical) father was. Dad was also present on Monday night in the form of his battered old leather bomber jacket - "He wore this when he played with Joe Cocker," Hawley said proudly. There was plenty more salty, blokish banter throughout the night, his ongoing dialogue with the audience referencing such as The Generation Game, Sham69, Marathon Man - all firmly nailing his (and pretty much the whole crowd's) vintage. Unsurprisingly, lastest album Lowedges featured prominently (tho' he admirably didn't go out of his way to flog it) but, with three encores, all corners of his repertoire were visited. With his resonant dusky vocal and alternating between acoustic guitar and - naturellment - a great big hollow-bodied, tremolo-armed electric, Hawley and his trusty 4-piece band rendered it all pretty faithfully. But some songs - Something is, Run to me, The only road - particularly grew with the vigour of live performance. And every number benefitted from the sparkling assists of guitarist Shez Sheridan. Totally in tune with the retro vibe Hawley is mining, his 'less is more' approach (whether via a fearsome-looking 12-string monster or improvised lap steel) was exemplary.
Unfortunately, Hawley suffers a finger condition which restricts his touring. Should the opportunity present itself he's definitely worthy of your support. A sound bloke in every respect...

"'We have never ever in our lives heard a male vocalist who sounds this much like a girl. The vocals do take a bit of getting used to. After one gets past the initial stumbling becomes obvious that he is an extraordinarily gifted singer/songwriter. The songs have a wonderfully classic sound that one rarely hears in such a young artist"
'His voice is the true draw to the music, as it soars almost angelically over soft acoustic guitar, layering on some beautiful harmonies...highly recommended'
''If you like your singer songwiters unique sounding and extremely talented, then he's your best bet. Get Gus Van Sant on the phone, this guy is going to be huge.'
All taken from reviews of an '03 debut solo album by Jeff Hanson - no, reallyrather's never heard of him either. Apparently, he's soon to tour with blog favourite Denison Witmer and if he's good enough for Denison...

And almost 18 months after it's original release, reivews of Gingersol's Trainwreck.. continue to dribble in: ''Such an abundance of riches...Gingersol recall a time when Wilco played straight-up country rock with grade-A production and occasional innovative flourishes..a winner.' Hey, Splendid, where have you been?!...
   posted by SMc at 10:49 AM |