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2019 is set to be a landmark year for songwriter Richard Hawley. Not only is he due to release his ninth studio album, but he will also see a musical based on a collection of his songs open in his hometown of Sheffield. Then, there’s also the small matter of the man celebrating his twentieth anniversary as a solo artist, something that he views with his customary sense of bluff realism.
“I suppose twenty years is quite a long time in this business, but, to be honest, even after all this time, I’m still a searcher. I’m still genuinely searching for things, in music and in life. I can’t tell you exactly what I’m looking for, or where I’m actually going but when I get there, I’ll probably send you a text,” he says, wryly.
In the two decades that have elapsed since Hawley jettisoned band life, first with The Longpigs and then as Pulp’s guitarist, the 52-year-old songwriter has forged one of the most singular and diverse careers in modern music.
The new album marks a departure for Hawley who has, to date, named all his albums after Sheffield icons or landmarks. For his new album he wanted something that would capture the intention of moving forwards, but without jettisoning his past. Optimism lies at the heart of Further, an album that was made largely in Sheffield with Hawley and his crack band, aided by co-producers Colin Elliot and Shez Sheridan.
“I really wanted to challenge myself to try to keep things relatively up-tempo and keep the songs to about three minutes long,” Hawley says openly, “I was asking myself ‘Can you get your message across like a bullet? Can you still do that?’ It’s quite a tough question to ask.”
His new music is the sound of a man who has very little left to prove but that still has something to say; it reflects Hawley’s own enduring approach to life.