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: Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat, The Pearl, Burning Bright—some of the greatest words I have read written by any soul who ever lived. John Steinbeck‘s understanding of humanity is so piercing, I think if I had to think of a book that floored me totally, it only takes a second to say the words “Cannery Row.” I find new things, too, every time I reread them—and I do read them often. If you haven’t read The Pearl, maybe you should; not that I would ever tell you what to do, of course. It only took an afternoon to read, but maybe it would have taken me a lifetime to find out what it is saying. Video after the jump.