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: A great sadness was with me when I heard of the death of Les Paul, but also a great thankfulness, too. He made it to the ripe old age of 94 and what a life. He and Leo Fender (and lots of other inventors) made it possible for music as we know it today to exist. In fact, we take it all for granted. Without them, it is difficult to imagine what life would be like. Their impact was that huge. I salute you, Les, I really do. And I thank you, too. I also thank all fearless pioneers of sound, all the mad pedals and amplifiers and guitars that make it possible to “paint” with sound. I call upon all of us to bow our heads in thanks, then raise them again in celebration of the life of a great, great man who walked amongst us and changed everything.