Hawley, Richard : Baby You’re My Light

Number One in NME's heart - which it's why it's our Single Of The Week...

One of the records on this page could be Number One next Sunday – tragically, it won’t be this one, but perhaps with the kind of low-key epiphanies that Richard Hawley trades in, that’s fairly appropriate. The perfect combination of hopeless romantic and chronic alcoholic, Hawley combines the musical licks of pre-being-shit Johnny Marr and ancient slide guitar genii Santo and Johnny with the lovelorn loner croon of faded rockabilly icon Billy Fury and perpetually troubled outsider James Dean.

A glowering, bad-tempered dude from Sheffield he may be but his heart is made of candyfloss, as the effortlessly wimpy ‘Baby, You’re My Light’ demonstrates. Constructed around a delicate little campfire melody, the erstwhile Longpig confounds all expectations with his Roy Orbison on 60-Regal-a-day voice and simple, pig-ignorant optimism. Unrepentantly English and – amazingly for a British singer-songwriter – without the faintest trace of Nick Drake or [a]Jeff Buckley[/a] anywhere, here’s a record that, in its unassuming style, offers no concession to any current trends in pop but unfussily ploughs its own moody, magnificent furrow. Hawley is ten years too old to be a matinee idol maybe, but he’s Number One in NME’s heart this week if nothing else.

Jim Wirth