Hawley’s “Bridge” is Beautiful

Richard Hawley, former member of Britpop heroes Pulp, The Longpigs, and a well-established session musician (Robbie Williams, Gwen Stefani, All Saints, Scott Walker, Jarvis Cocker, and others), has produced one of the most beautiful and literate albums of 2007. He’s a connoisseur of 1950s American country and rock, including Lee Hazlewood and Jim Reeves, and his music speaks to just such another time and place. As MAGNET reflected on recently: American rock before the Beatles. His new album, “Lady’s Bridge,” named for the oldest bridge in his native Sheffield, England, has complicated my Top 10 for 2007. Feist has company and competition. Filled with timeless, heartfelt (unpretentious) rock-based ballads and upbeat, swooning tunes about his working-class upbringing and hometown. It’s a geographical adventure through memories and emotions that connect our histories with our futures. The album conjures up all of our quieter moments from the past, those moments of reflection walking a “Dark Road,”–when our “[only] companion is the stars.”

It’s a perfect album for the beginning of the holiday season, as we sometimes rather needlessly reflect on lost relationships and memories of friends and lovers of holidays past. While harkening to such times that continue to persist in our thoughts, such as the wonderful “Serious,” an apparent reference to Hawley losing his father during the recording of the album.  The album also looks toward the future with numbers such as “I’m Looking for Someone to Find Me,” a moving song about loneliness, balanced by a tempo and timbre that functions as a pick-me-up nonetheless.

“Tonight the Streets Are Ours” is one of the most memorable songs of 2007. With a melody as gorgeous as “Bittersweet Symphony,” I’m sure Richard Ashcroft has found himself an admirer. Its Neil Postman-esque treatment of television is as timeless as its melody, as Hawley croons, “Those people, they’ve got nothing in their souls/And they make our TV’s blind us/From our visions and goals.” See the video below, with all apologies to J Leman’s career ambitions.

As gorgeous as the music, is the liner jacket filled with pictures of Sheffield and a quote from Samuel Harrison’s account of the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864. A night that “Lady’s Bridge” was nearly lost, as waters rushed over. Much like it’s namesake bridge, Hawley’s “Lady’s Bridge” joins our tenuous reflections of the past, with our attempts to “never walk this road anymore.” Happy Thanksgiving and try to enjoy the inevitable bridges. As Hawley writes in the liner jacket:

“I have crossed Lady’s Bridge back and forth many times over the years, mainly to get to Kenny’s Records on one side (now long gone sadly) or to the Castle Market on the other, both places provided me with food of different sorts. We all have to cross bridges in our lives and we all have to leave things behind that are hard to let go sometimes, pause though before you cross and watch the ancient river flow, be at peace…for a while…then move on”

p.s. to our Chicago readership–see Richard Hawley at the Abbey Pub on December 6th. He’s a rock star, in the best sense.

Richard Hawley Tour Dates
12/01 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
12/02 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
12/04 – Cambridge, MA @ TT the Bear’s
12/05 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
12/06 – Chicago, IL @ The Abbey
12/07 – Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
12/10 – Seattle, WA @ Crocodile Café
12/12 – San Francisco, CA @ Café du Nord
12/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour


3 Responses to “Hawley’s “Bridge” is Beautiful”

  1. November 22, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    This is a real great post, JT. I’m going to back off the blog for a bit just to give this one the respect it deserves. Pulp’s “Common People” is a monster. I should really look into this record and the Abbey next month.

  2. November 23, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Game over. Best post of the year.

  3. 3 Joe
    November 27, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    thanks for the comments…i’m going to bust another this week…i gotta post one a week at min.

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