Recorded at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studio, ‘Hollow Meadows’ is Richard Hawley’s love song to the best of ballroom ballads; he touches on romance, on days gone by, and on growing old. The album reflects Hawley’s clear maturity in the studio with elements of country in ‘Serenade Of Blue’ and a more ballsy rock feel to ‘Which Way’, he spans the genres and does so with confidence, providing a record that’s rarely boring. The Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner has been touted as the natural successor as Sheffield’s poet of crooning romance but with ‘Hollow Meadows’, Hawley shows us he’s not handing over his title easily.
The album is full of appearances by notable Sheffield luminaries and Hawley’s friends. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame features on the aptly named ‘Nothing Like A Friend’, and as ever, guitarist and friend Shez Sheridan allows Hawley room to craft beautiful melodies. ‘I Still Want You’ also benefits from Nancy Kerr’s soft viola in contrast to Richard Hawley’s increasingly gravelly voice. Several tracks towards the end of the album tail off the intensity which good music brings, which is a shame, and they pass by without notice before he pulls up the tempo again with a gorgeous track in ‘Heart of Oak’, which channels a later David Bowie feel with a Morrissey-esque twang.
‘Hollow Meadows’ is a great album, and a very good introduction to Richard Hawley’s more refined style. Gone are the chugging guitar riffs of his album ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ from 2012, and here Hawley gives good reasons as to why he is still as relevant today as he was ten years ago.