Richard Hawley: “Truelove’s Gutter” (Short Version)

truelove's gutter

Editor’s note: The following review was originally written for Stereo Subversion, but after I completed it and submitted to my editor, I realized that I still had so much to say about the album, I could write an entire second review. The following review, then, is what I’m calling the short version– or the “newbies” edition, providing some basic background on Hawley’s career and a description of the music on the new CD. A more in-depth, track-by-track review, exploring the album’s themes a bit deeper, is available here.

Who is Richard Hawley? Well, for starters, I’m increasingly convinced that he is the ultimate anti-hipster. In addition to his membership in the Britpop iconoclasts Pulp, he’s made six albums under his own name, and none of them could possibly be any further from what’s cool, trendy, or—God forbid—mainstream. The man sings in a voice that sounds like Johnny Cash crooning a la Bing Crosby, all quiet dignity and restraint. His music is slow and impossibly quiet. His range of influences consists mostly of rockabilly and classic pop idioms that predate The Beatles, and, in an age when irony sells like hotcakes, Hawley peddles unabashed sentiment.

In other words, he’s a hopeless romantic who plays pop music of aching, exquisite beauty and enveloping sadness. He wouldn’t make it past the first round of American Idol, and I doubt he’d fare much better with the Pitchfork crowd. But their loss is our gain: Hawley’s music has absolutely no counterpart or touchstone in modern music, which makes it indispensable.

Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.

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