Firstly, I should apologise to readers and indeed Richard Hawley for not getting this review out earlier. There is good reason though, Further is like a fine wine, worth savouring and not revealing it‘s secrets instantly. The more time I have spent with this album, my love for it has increased as words buried their way into my heart and the tunes began to resurface so often that I was running back to my stream to re-experience the magic.
Richard Hawley used to be in my musical lexicon due to his stellar work with Longpigs, one of the brilliant sons of Britpop who like Babybird did not seem to belong in the Knee’s Up Mother Brown celebrations of the time. Later working with Manic Street Preachers on perhaps their most melancholic record (and let‘s face it, there are plenty) Rewind The Film put him centre stage and sent me back to his solo material that I had perhaps not given enough time to before.
When I think of Hawley, I am reminded of the classic torch singer, Scott Walker, Jacques Brel, Anthony Reynolds, Burt Bacharach. Like these icons, listening to many of the songs here you would be unlikely to think “2019!” when playing it, this is some timeless crooner goodness, never in vogue but also never out of the minds and hearts of those who know. Off My Mind, the opening salvo here might not be what you expect from Hawley, instead of a rainy night song, trust me, there are plenty of them to come, this is an open top car speeding down the American highway in the eighties tune. You can imagine it popping up in an Emilio Estevez film, just when he expresses his love to the girl and then gets shot down. It is still a yearning heartfelt beast, despite the trojan horse sound that could bring it to a much larger audience. This is Hawley‘s skill, he is not just leaning to the classics, he is communicating to everyone who ever loved and lost, or everyone who loved and got no response – ‘Can’t get you off of my mind, no matter how hard I try’, universal, that is what this brilliant opener is, universal.
Those having problems listening to Morrissey now following his recent strange proclamations could do worse than Alone, which could have been at home on Viva Hate, an orchestral belter, ‘It makes me feel so alone and unreal‘, raise your hand if you understand? All hands raise. Brilliant. Further is another highlight, a beautiful fifties shuffle, if music can be truly widescreen then this is it, the lyric whispers ‘A silence is falling‘ whilst the sonics soar. A definite mixtape addition in the coming months, if I have not just aged myself by not saying Playlist.
Classic songs deserve classic actions after all. If you are looking for the most heartbreaking tune here then Emilina Says is your go-to. It is an absolutely devastating tale of lost love that will hit a nerve with everyone, there is that universal element again. ‘Emilina’s got somebody else on her mind‘, simple, crushing, I‘m just glad he used such a rare name so I‘m not texting it to an Ex RIGHT NOW, sorry not texting, that is not the Hawley way, writing a letter, yes, that is more this album’s style. And it has style up the proverbial ying-yang. Is There A Pill is the perfect rock sorbet to follow the drama, lyrically it is as down as the previous songs but sonically we are in Arctic Monkeys / Josh Homme territory that also has an A Design For Life orchestral motif which lifts you to the heavens whilst proclaiming ‘Is there a pill I can take to never feel this strange again?’. Astounding.
Closer Doors is a beautiful Roy Orbison torch song, with the light shining long after the music has ended. All it does is make you want to lift the needle and flip the record back to the start. Or press PLAY again, if we are back in 2019. It is funny how journalism works some times, if I had written this review a few weeks back, it might have been a three star drudge, but this perhaps should remind you that music is art and all art deserves a chance to grow, to pull you in, to make you feel and make you love and now I goddamn love Further and suggest you go and grab yourself a copy right this minute to hear just what can be done in music with a knowledge of the past but no fear of the future, I love it, give it a go.
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