Richard Hawley is a classic crooner. His tender baritone overwhelms the senses with its incandescent cadence and light, caressing glow. A single inflection, harrowed and heartfelt, ignites an inextinguishable flame, leaving a deep longing for companionship and romance. Hawley’s sixth studio album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, is hauntingly beautiful. A penetrating, soaring experience, this record is a hand to hold through a lonely night, a brilliant candle in impregnable darkness.
Though just as moving, Standing at the Sky’s Edge is slightly harsher than Hawley’s previous work. He exchanges his characteristic softness for a measure of doubt and disillusionment. This makes his music all the more powerful. It seems the gentle blaze that has been burning in Hawley’s fireplace has begun to flash and spark. Tracks like “Time Will Bring You Winter” and “Leave Your Body Behind You” sound somewhat sinister and abstract — one has to search deeper for the underlying motivations. But there is much to connect to, each of these songs being a sweeping melodic journey.
Elsewhere, the record is classic Richard Hawley. “Seek It” is a candid and sensual song where Hawley displays his devotion, proclaiming that he is “blinded by love.” A real standout, this track sees a sumptuous accompaniment of bright yet melancholic guitars interlacing in signature Hawley style. In “Don’t Stare at the Sun”, Hawley portrays a craving for love, and a desperate need for care and warmth. This song is sensitive and fragile, almost broken, but in terms of the music, truly triumphant.
As always, Hawley fears nothing, confronting all his emotions in incredibly poignant tunes. His singing carries boundless feeling, while his guitars sing, cry, sigh, wail, hurt, heal and everything in between. The record strikes a chord within the listener’s deepest sentimen in a manner that only Hawley can achieve.