06 September 2005

richard hawley - "coles corner" (from the coles corner lp, available for purchase here.)

in brief: morrissey acting his age, retooling his songs for the copa, w/ gordon jenkins as musical director.

do you remember the longpigs? i do. until recently, "she said" by these brit-pop nearly-weres was one of the most-played songs on my ipod. that count was reset as shame set in; i imagine i'll be feeling the same way ten years from now when i still have "lackey" by the others on the portable player du jour.

richard hawley was the guitarist for the longpigs. since, he's been a guitarist for pulp and jarvis cocker's all-around musical companion, the two appearing together on benefit discs and in the widely-misunderstood relaxed muscle project. none of this prepared me for his solo work. admittedly, his first two solo discs should have done the trick, but the shame of my ignorance, shame being a recurring theme in my life, is leavened by the fact that i have much to catch up on.

"coles corner," song and album, is the kind of music that the discerning morrissey fan would hope their man would be making at this point in his career. given the cues of "interlude" and "moon river" and how well-suited his voice has now become for the material, i myself had hoped that he'd trade in the legions of teen fans for supper clubs. "coles corner" is something of a rewrite and refinement of the conceits to, arguably, morrissey's two best-known songs, "how soon is now?" and "there is a light that never goes out." the singer wants to see people and lights, so he goes down to coles corner, and he stands on his own, and he leaves on his own.

notably, there is no crying and dying. he is used to it at this point, as, twenty years on, one would expect morrissey to be used to it. tonight, to quote perhaps morrissey's third best-known, is just like any other night. one wishes morrissey was at a stage in his career where he could, if not write it, then sing such music. (nothing against hawley's voice, though: for reasons that escape me, he is oft-compared to roy orbison though to my ears he's almost a ringer for paul buchanan of the blue nile.) in the world of coles corner, as in the one created by sinatra, crying is done offstage, in the wee small hours, and after a dozen or so drinks.

if coles corner were a sinatra album, w/ its preponderance of strings, it'd have been arranged by gordon jenkins; w/ its dark corners and city lights, the album cover--always an indicator of the mood of a sinatra album--would be a blend of the dark purple of no one cares and the gauzy blue of in the wee small hours. such comparisons aren't merely a parlor game: w/ its classicism and absence of affect--this is not the tindersticks--coles corner is adult-oriented music in the best sense of the word.

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