Those of you who are familiar with velvet-voiced crooner
Richard Hawley will know that the sea is a recurring theme in his
Sheffield’s answer to Roy Orbison even recently hosted a Radio 2 show
called The Ocean, which was named after his song of the same name and
looked at the history of seafaring towns in the UK.
New from Hawley this month is False Lights From The Land – a limited
edition EP that’s made up of four tracks that are all
inspired by the sea.
Comprising two original Hawley compositions
(Remorse Code and There’s A Storm A Coming) and two cover versions of
sea shanties (The Ellan Vannin Tragedy and Shallow Brown), it’s a
great little record that has drawn me in like, ahem, false lights from
Remorse Code was featured on Hawley’s last album, the wonderful
Truelove’s Gutter, and at nearly 10 minutes long is a spiralling,
twilight ballad that’s loaded with nautical imagery, but is also about
a friend who has gone off course and sunk to unimaginable depths,
driven by drink and drugs. It’s a beautiful song, laced with gorgeous
twangy guitar and slightly eerie atmospherics.
The other original song could have been lifted from his
Coles Corner album. There’s A Storm A Coming is yet another sublime
Hawley ballad, but lighter than his latest work, it’s a shuffling,
sentimental ’50s-style pop tune that sounds like it’s been around
forever. One for the mums and dads. And for melancholy muso journos in
their late thirties. Lovely.
Both of the remaining two tracks feature female folk duo The Smoke
Fairies (terrible name). Shallow Brown is a traditional acapella
number, but the real gem is The Ellan Vannin Tragedy.
A mournful, haunting folk song written by Hugh E Jones of The Spinners,
it tells the tale of a ship that sank in ferocious waters just outside
Liverpool after leaving Ramsey on the Isle of Man on 3 December 1909,
losing all 21 crew and 14 passengers.
Hawley’s version sounds like he’s set sail on a ship bound for hell,
with Nick Cave as the captain, while a funereal cello drones in the??background.??
Careful – it’ll drag you under and you’ll never be seen again.
Storming stuff, indeed.