Richard Hawley- Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Virgin Records, Audio CD: Rs. 395

The seventh studio album from musician Richard Hawley which released on 7 May 2012 is remarkably different from his previous works, moving from softer instrumentation to Hawley’s legacy of guitars. As with all of his previous albums, the title of the album refers to a location in his native Sheffield, Sky Edge, an area famed for its high crime rate. It is Richard Hawley’s highest charting album to date and credit must be given to him for attempting a sound as eclectic as this.

The epic opener is ‘She brings the Sunlight’. What starts off with just sitars and strings entwine a deceptive spell before impressions of distorted guitars and sonic whirrs batter, making way for the title track.

‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ tells of the story of lives that are about to encounter disaster. Sounding almost biblical at times, the sound is progressively menacing till it builds up and intensifies. Hawley’s vocals, however, remain calm, measured, and relentless, which is what makes it even more unsettling.

‘Down In the Woods’ has an upbeat tempo with an indistinctly ominous promise, “Won’t you follow me down, down into the woods, come back feeling good…”

Next up is ‘Seek’ which has a simple melody but some intricate guitar riffs punched in. Following this is ‘Don’t Stare at the Sun’ a lovely ballad, the kind of song that suits Richard Hawley’s singing style.

The penultimate track ‘Leave Your Body behind You’ carries forward the psychedelic feel again, muffled chiming guitar work is the highlight here. The album comes to an end with ‘Before’, which provides a perfect closer, squeezing in heroic guitar passages between silent contemplation.

Other songs on the CD include ‘Time will bring you winter’ and ‘The Wood Collier’s Grave’.

With this record, Hawley brandishes his guitar with spanking new zeal, unfurling lengthy, tumultuous solos and a new psychedelic sound. While he is definitely treading uncharted musical ground, the album would have found more fans had it been more coherent and less monotonous.