Richard Hawley. 16.9.16. Hoults Yard.

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Richard Hawley is the best solo artist of the millennium; having aimed for, and reached, a level of musicianship, melody and lyricism well above the standard pop music aspires to.

His standard is right up at the Brian Wilson Teenage pop symphony level, or the Prince Purple Rain level.

Paul Mason once said that “music forces you into a world of uncontrolled emotion“.  In Richard’s case, his music takes me into a world of deep thought, regret and longing.

It’s a world I enjoy visiting, but (paraphrasing a Bono reference to Nina Simone) a world I never want to stay in for too long.

Appearing as a 2 piece, and playing mostly acoustically, Hawley delivers heart breaking renditions of new and old favorites.  “Heart of Oak”,  “Remorse Code” and (personal favourite) “For your lover give some time”  provide an insight into Hawley’s ability to write mesmerizing, extraordinary, songs.

Whilst the acoustic setting takes away some of the orchestral pop/ guitar wizardry of certain songs, it does leave the vortex of each song.  Stripped back to basics, and allowing more room for Hawley’s depth-defying vocals (half croon, half whisper) it leaves us listening to a man who puts it all on the line- who he is, what he wanted to be, what he has left. Ultimately, a flawed, but proud, man.

This is the best music you can get; this is soul music; impactful music; healing music; meaningful music.  Music that brings out the best in people.

Halwey’s refusal to ease up is honourable.  With a reputation for, and a history of, between-song banter, Hawley has carved out a comedic public persona.  But don’t be fooled, no Hawley gig is ever light hearted, and he is just about as far away from a comic as a person can be.

Some days life can be hard.

Some days you need a friend.

On those days I have Richard.

Richard is my friend.

He’s the best.

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