Thursday, September 14, 2006

Music in your 30s. Richard Hawley

A review of Coles Corner

I don't know about yous, but to say that I've started to feel a tad out of touch with today's music is not to overstate my case. You hit 30, you watch -say- the highlights of Reading Festival or V, or X, Y, Z sponsored by some huge lager-pumping corporation, presented by some giddy-acting trollop and you don't recognise a single tune. You may have heard the bands' names, but they don't push the right buttons. Most likely, a generational thing.

And yet somebody did it for me, out of the blue. A guy of unassuming appearance, a denim-clad semi-geek with a clear penchant for vintage rock'n'roll, quite cool-looking actually. But veneer aside, it's songwriting that does the trick here.

Think of Morrissey at his most heartfelt, that wavering, impassionate cover of 50s classic Moonriver lost amidst the indifference of his rockabilly days. Think of Nick Cave's The Boatman's Call, eerie and spectral. Think of that excruciatingly psychotic plea for help (the-party's-over-and-you're-as-alone-as-ever) that was Pulp's This is Hardcore.

That's my way of describing what Richard Hawley does to you. His latest -magnificent- Coles Corner is a rubber ring chucked at a generation often too inhibited, too cool, to sing about emotions in unassuming fashion. An 'old' romantic, dareisay.

Coles Corner is a tale of lonely despair, it's a post-being-dumped walk around the park. Sparse piano, shy, shimmering, beautiful guitars, stunning arrangements. It's also the most stunning tribute to Sheffield's most anonymous yet popular corner. The place where a million souls may decide to meet up on their first date and get stood up. Hotel Room, Tonight, Born Under A Bad Sign, they should all be classics and to me they already are.

And if you'd been out on the pull and luck was on your side and they'd said yes to a date, which would your Coles Corner be in Birmingham? The Odeon in New Street? Paradise Forum? Or maybe that newly defaced bull statue outside the Bull Ring? Nominate Brum's own Coles Corner. And get hold of that CD!