Having been charmed by the first two albums from Richard Hawley, I was slightly miffed when a friend I was trying to convert suggested that there were tracks from the first duplicated on the second. There weren’t, but Late Night Final did seem like the second half of the eponymous first album. No big deal, especially as I seem to recall the songs were stacked up waiting to be recorded, Hawley having been composing long before he finally launched his solo career.
The songs on Lowedges must also have been waiting in the wings, because lo and behold, we now have a trilogy… at least. Lowedges is another short album (11 tracks, total playtime just 41 minutes). The laid-back sound – seductive growly voice, gentle percussion, retro slide guitars – is instantly recognisable. He has added some strings this time around – but in effect, if you liked the first two, you’ll love this album. (And if you didn’t hear the first two you really can start anywhere…)
So why am I slightly disappointed? Some of these songs could have been better developed, and there are no obvious stand-out tracks to compare with Bang to Rights or Coming Home. But there are lovely moments.
The dark-treacle voice is as gorgeous as ever, especially on tracks like Darlin’ and It’s Over Love, which would melt the stoniest heart. Maybe the problem is there is very little change of pace – virtually every song is a slow, slow ballad, and they blend together into one warm, cosy but ultimately rather soporific whole.
The Motorcycle Song is the exception. “I don’t know my way back home, my motorcycle’s full of holes / I can’t find my way back in, I’m hungry and my shadow’s thin” – there’s some great imagery and at last we get a slightly upbeat tempo. Don’t worry, it’s still slow and mellow, but it wakes you up just enough to put another log on the fire and settle back again into the cushions.