Though it would be a little harsh to say Richard Hawley had lost his muse, the past two albums have certainly seen him treading water. It’s somewhat inevitable given that Hawley releases records at such a regular rate and his style is, after all, based on music recorded over forty years ago (Roy Orbison, Scott Walker, even Elvis) when crooners ruled the world. How nice to report then, that ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ is not only a return to form but also contains some of the best songs of his career to date.
The tender ‘As The Dawn Breaks’ is as subtle an opening as you could imagine. The grand gestures from recent albums are still very much in evidence yet here they’re backed up by the emotional weight of the songs and some key contributions from the Red Skies string section. ‘Open Up Your Door’ sends shivers down the spine from the outset with its intro of its shimmering strings and Hawley’s magnificent voice and a glorious finale. Yet this is arguably eclipsed by the gentle/dramatic dynamics of ‘Soldier On’ and ‘For Yor Lover Give Some Time’ where Hawley extols the virtues of not taking the love of your special one for granted. This excellent album concludes with ‘Don’t You Cry’, a superbly arranged lullaby. Only ‘Remorse Code’ overdoes it but within its near ten minute length there is still some great guitar work and a warm melody to be enjoyed.
Quite how this man who was known as guitarist for Pulp and The Longpigs in the 1990’s for so long seems almost unbelievable now. Thankfully, Hawley – who was also rejected from Morrissey’s live band for singing an Elvis track nearly twenty years ago has now had the confidence to step into the limelight once again.
Scott Walker, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley