Review of Richard Hawley's album Truelove's Gutter released through Mute.
Richard Hawley will always be inextricably linked to Jarvis Cocker through their Britpop heyday as Pulp. But Hawley's solo work is far from the tongue in cheek, raunchy pop that his former band mate Cocker produces. His sixth solo album, True Loves Gutter not only widens the cavern between the two even further, but is also a step away from his previous releases.
Although the album is still melancholic Hawley at his best, it also sees him take a much darker turn. With references to his home town of Sheffield, Hawley sings of long-term love and days gone by with minimal instrumentation; gentle strings and soft percussion. But it is his vocals that are the true star of the show. Flashes of old greats such as Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen come through and his delivery is heartfelt and emotional.
Remorse Code, 9 minutes in all its splendour is a real stand-out track. Gentle finger picking guitar and soft snare drum underlie beautiful melancholy, looping vocals delivered in Hawley's deep, soothing tone. For Your Lover Give Some Time stands out for a different reason. It is the most light-hearted track on the album and is almost comical at times. Hawley playfully singing: 'I gave you a gift that almost took your breath away, but to be honest, I nearly left it on the train'. It is wry and lifts the tone but maintains the same high standards as darker songs on the record.
I'm sure some people may find this album less accessible than his previous material, merely for the fact that it is such a slow pace throughout and this is exaggerated by the length of the songs. However, for most, it will draw you in and you won't even notice it - Hawley's breathtakingly beautiful vocals have that hypnotic quality and TrueLove's Gutter is a timeless album.