Saturday night with the Steel City troubadour

Richard Hawley
Richard Hawley
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Steel City troubadour and 21st Century crooner Richard Hawley is set for a Saturday night show at the De La Warr Pavilion next month.

The evening will feature songs from his eighth studio album, Hollow Meadows in September, 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).

For the first time ever, Hawley demoed the songs in his shed studio (Disgracelands) with his long-time guitarist and confidant, Shez Sheridan (who also co-produced the album with Hawley and Colin Elliot).

This allowed him to enter the studio with fully realised songs, and many of those original demos were so strong, they form part of the finished album, including the vocal to the sublime opening track, I Still Want You – Hawley at his most vulnerable and romantic, with one of those choruses that only Hawley seems capable of writing, like a ballroom spotlight on a glitterball.

In the world of Hollow Meadows everything seems to feed into Hawley’s uniquely earthy strain of mysticism.

All roads seem to lead back to the same place – literally in the case of the album’s title. In keeping with the tradition of previous albums, which all allude to places in and around Sheffield, Hawley alighted on the name Hollow Meadows which was thought to be the location of a hospital that existed as recently as the 1950s. In fact, further research yielded that the area was originally known as Auley Meadows – a name thought to derive from the Hawley family who lived there between the 14th and 17th Century.

The album features some notable guests from the UK folk scene; Hawley’s neighbour and friend Martin Simpson, who plays slide guitar and banjo on Long Time Down and Nancy Kerr, who plays fiddle and viola on ‘The World Looks Down’, ‘I Still Want You’ and ‘Nothing Like A Friend’. There is also a song inspired in part by Hawley’s friendship with the iconic folk singer Norma Waterson (‘Heart Of Oak’). Other guests include one of Hawley’s oldest and dearest friends, Jarvis Cocker who plays Rheem Kee super bass on ‘Nothing Like A Friend’, and the Hick Street Chip Shop Singers, who are made up of various Sheffield luminaires, including Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor.

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