Richard Haswell is an Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter who has self-released twenty albums to date. Intriguingly, his former projects include the dubiously-named Rhubarb and G For Gnome but based on this recording under his own name, his concerns are more grounded this time around.
Haswell’s soothing tones are tailor-made for comfort listening from the moment we hear him on ‘Magnetic North’ and when wife Shelley joins in, the song sounds even more intimate. At the other end of the scale, ‘Cause & Effect’ has the full epic band effect. Mostly though, his music is rather subtle; tracks like ‘Arise’ and ‘Driftwood’ possess a pastoral dreamlike atmosphere in keeping with the blurred cover art. The same cannot be said, however, for ‘Dream Hill’ which is discordant and unlistenable. Thankfully the chiming melody to ‘Post Goldrush Blues’ (a song which bemoans the death of music) is memorable for the right reasons and makes up fo that aberration.
Haswell’s vocals are rich with experience and sometimes I couldn’t tell whether I was listening to a 1970’s folk-rock veteran or a sonic experimentalist (witness the psychedelic/shoegazing finale to ‘The Rings Of Saturn’). What is more important is that his music is enjoyable to listen to and different enough to mark him out as a true independent artist.