The momentum with which Richard Hawley has been travelling has just taken a seismic leap forward. The deep, reassuring baritone remains the same but the strings, and comforting orchestral resonance, have disappeared. Something has changed, and it's accompanied by a solid wall of electric guitar. This is still Richard Hawley, but like you've never heard him before. He's gone electric.
'Standing At The Sky's Edge', Hawley's sixth studio album, is, in many ways, a departure of style. However, old ties remain prevalent. Once again the album is dedicated to a neighbourhood of his Yorkshire hometown. Like 'Lowedges', 'Coles Corner', 'Lady's Bridge' and 'Truelove's Gutter'; 'Standing At The Sky's Edge' is dedicated to 'Sky Edge' an area of Sheffield which garnered a certain level of notoriety within the Steel City for its gang related crime. It's a theme which forms the centrepiece for Hawley's lyrical narrative throughout. With the title track bringing forth tales of desperate men who killed their wives, prostitutes and those who "find their lives slowly sinking" it finishes with Jacob, "[so] misguided, he carried a blade. So much fear in the city, it carried him away."
However, album highlight is almost certainly 'Down In The Woods'. Thumping guitars and distorted vocals give a furious effect. There's gravel in his Hawley's gut and spit in his eye. Sure, 'Truelove's Gutter' was charged with dark undertones but this is different. There's a new level of menace and it's formed in the storm of Hawley's bass, guitar, drum compositions. This is the record everyone knew he had in him and to hear it boldly striding out into the open is a thing to experience.
Back in 2006, fellow Sheffield natives Arctic Monkey's took the Mercury Prize and famously declared that Richard Hawley had been robbed. Right now, 'Standing At The Sky's Edge' looks like his best chance to take what is rightfully his.