An utterly lovely, timeless album that Hawley can be proud of.
Ian Wade 2007-08-10
Richard Hawley has more than paid his dues in doing time in his share of bands including The Longpigs, Pulp, and Jarvis among a myriad of other outfits. It was only in 2006 when his third solo album Coles Corner was nominated for a Mercury Award – leading winner and head Arctic Monkey, Alex Turner, to quip that Hawley had been robbed – that cemented his gentle upgrade out of the shadows, and won him a whole host of new fans in the process.
Like its predecessor, Lady’s Bridge takes its name from a local landmark in his native Sheffield, a bridge that historically connected the poor side of the town to the rich side. Along with various crossover, turning 40 and bridge analogies, it’s also a deeply personal album to Hawley, who lost his father to cancer early in 2007. As a tribute, the album cover features Richard in Sheffield’s answer to The Cavern - the legendary Club 60 - on the stage where his father, over 30 years ago, used to play with various blues legends John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters.
Lady’s Bridge sees the scope broadening further from Coles Corner, into an album that sees the average tempo lift a notch. Anyone expecting a radical new dance direction will be disappointed. He has seen that the wheel is doing fine for now and intends to leave it that way. While Hawley’s sweetly dark, yet doomed romantic voice - not lightly is it compared to Scott Walker, Roy Orbison and Jim Reeves - intones tales of past love, wanderlust and heartbreak. Oh, and in the swelling swoonery of lead single “Tonight The Streets Are Ours”, ASBOs. On the magnificent “Lady Solitude”, Hawley evokes a hard worn northern Leonard Cohen, and blooms on the bruised romance of opener “Valentine”, while the gentle skiffling “I’m Looking For Someone To Find Me” lifts the spirits immeasurably.
Overall, Lady’s Bridge is an utterly lovely, timeless album that Hawley can be proud of, and deserves to further his cause in becoming a proper national treasure. Don’t let him get robbed again.