Late Night Final
Hawley has spent good times jamming with Pulp and The Longpigs
over the years. His contribution to Pulp is probably most
notable on the "Live in Finsbury Park" video.
Since The Longpigs have disbanded, Hawley has found a lot
of free time on his hands.
His solo work has taken him far away from Pulp and a little
bit closer to Twin Peaks. David Lynch is probably knocking
on Hawley's door right now to ask him to do a soundtrack
for his next film. Not only is the music both backwards
and forward looking, but the album's art offers scenes of
snack bars, townies milling about, and discount sales from
hell. Hawley recasts himself as the man in black. Late
Night Final is a record to love, or make love to. It's
the best album I have heard in a while.
The first song "Something is..." sounds like
a road song. It throws you into a private world of weariness
and leaving home. There is a lot of openness and tenderness
in Hawley's voice, an innocence and lightness. The music
is the furthest thing away from the clever and contrived.
The single "Baby, You're My Light" sounds like
the Everly Brothers forming a supergroup with Roy Orbison.
Hawley has in fact often been compared to the late Orbison
by many, though his voice is distinctively his own. Love
songs never seemed so plain and simple. Most of the songs
are driven by voice and guitar. The lack of percussion is
not missed. This is hardly party music. It is music to be
listened to alone with the lights low.
Hawley is a great storyteller. He gives Sheffield, his
hometown, a Lynchian treatment. He sings so many heartbreaking
songs like "Love Of My Live" without irony and
with true feeling. In no way are these tunes sentimental.
It's just like capturing the true feelings of old records.
Good songs are good songs. The sound of Top of The Pops
this isn't, but at least this will connect you to your dreams.
If the visual world is all there is, why live without dreams?
When you get to the fourth song "The Nights Are Cold"
you can start seeing this album as postcards in a book from
some other age trapped in our present. I think of good friends
of the past and distant memories that have passed by in
Many British musicians are currently obsessed with Hank
Williams and Old Country music. This influence is evident
in much of Hawley's work, even with the guitar parts he
plays on Pulp's "Glory Days." Towards the middle
of this record you think that you can be comfortable with
Hawley's interpretations of Retro-futurism, but when he
offers the song "Can You Hear The Rain, Love?"
he sends the listener over cliffs in an ecstasy of sound
with crescendos of beauty. The track "Lonely Night"
has roots in folk music and hymns. Equal time is given to
loneliness and emptiness as to their counterparts, love
and hope. It's a lovely battle.
On "No Way Home" Hawley dramatizes Sheffield
and realizes that he doesn't fit in. He's looking at his
past life in a glass bubble. The strangest things have become
the most familiar. He promises that "he's never coming
back." When you think that all is spent, Hawley reaches
for a great blues moment with the song "Cry A Tear
For The Man In The Moon." Another really sad song.
Maybe he is saying that love is the only escape from this
miserable life? There is a Christmas vibe on some of these
songs. Or is it nursery rhymes? "Long Black Train"
sounds like one of those songs sung as a child. So many
musicians try to be original using production tricks and
technology. Hawley shows us how to be interesting and tender
with evocative songs. I would like to shake his hand.
-- Alexander Laurence