A deep-voiced, working-class songwriter with an affinity for ’50s-era crooners, American country music and grand orchestration, Richard Hawley has paid tribute to his hometown of Sheffield, England, through songwriting that serves as a sepia-toned photograph of timeless places and love-troubled lives. While it may seem as if nothing changes in Hawley’s stylishly retro work, sixth album Truelove’s Gutter (Mute) is a deceptively tranquil sea change of sonics—employing glass harmonica, waterphone and other ethereal sounds—and themes, with the album delving into lyrical topics of dashed hopes, drug addiction and, of course, love gone wrong. Befitting its title, Truelove’s Gutter finds Hawley trawling Sheffield’s shadows and back alleys on his most spacious, soul-baring album to date. Hawley is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with him.
Hawley: When did being a politician mean that you had to wait in line at the hospital for that spine-donor operation? I love Tony Benn and what he stands for. I have never met him but would like to. He is semi-retired now, but he comes from a time when being intelligent—steeped in all kinds of ancient lore, knowledge of our history and a deep understanding of the human condition and its plight—wasn’t a hinderance to your poll ratings or any of that bullshit. I hope for great things from Barack Obama. I think he has the same backbone and strong beliefs. Heaven help us if he doesn’t succeed. Video after the jump.