Caught by the River

Listening Pleasures of……September

9th October 2009

Sean Rowley finds joy in Richard Hawley’s. ‘Trueloves Gutter’


Back in the early 80s, the NME gave away a booklet which was a guide to Torch songs. Contributors included in house journos Fred Deller,Neil Spencer & Tony Parsons. New wave acts such as Elvis Costello & Vic Godard started to get a look in on the act as well (this was the 80s). Like all good guides they took you to places you might not have thought of visiting. My obsession with the ballad album was born. If there was one essential album to purchase on the back of falling under the spell this new world it was Frank Sinatra sings Songs For Only The Lonely. I still rate this record as one of the greatest albums ever made.

Truelove’s Gutter continues this dying tradition, but does not wallow in any nostalgia trip. If the essence of the torch song is the loss of love, RH has delivered a record which stylistically uses the torch ballad, but this time around to convey the labour of love, as well . The warnings signs are here, the rush of romance now has to be sort, and worked at. Welcome to the most important & demanding role you’ll ever play. The pay off (both in real & listening experience) is both challenging and uplifting.

Much has been made of RH’s vocal, lazy comparisons have been drawn with Roy Orbison. Dig deeper and you’ll find a man who has schooled himself in the works of Lee Hazelwood, Bob Lind & the ballads of Gene Vincent. But, if these greats of American song cast an inspiring shadow, lyrical RH doesn’t fall into any American word trap. Pictures are painted of English (Northern) landscapes, dark & rain drenched.

I might be getting old but my search for a connection with music will never leave me, when I listen to True Love’s Gutter my soul is ignited , and all is well.

(You can listen to Sean’s radio show, ‘The Joy of Music’, here.)