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'Ashes on the Fire' by Richard Hawley

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Richard Hawley: Rough-Hewn Romanticism

Richard Hawley: Rough-Hewn Romanticism

'Ashes on the Fire' by Richard Hawley

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Fifty years after Owen Bradley's legendary RCA sessions, former Pulp guitarist Richard Hawley picks up where Bradley left off: by perfecting the epic sweep and quiet elegance of the Nashville tradition. On Truelove's Gutter, Hawley infuses his songs with a familiar talking point in country ballads — namely, a deeply rooted sense of heartache and loss.

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Ashes on the Fire"
  • Artist: Richard Hawley
  • CD: Truelove's Gutter
  • Genre: Pop-Rock
Richard Hawley i

In "Ashes on the Fire," the former Pulp guitarist captures the epic sweep and quiet elegance of the classic Nashville sound. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Richard Hawley

In "Ashes on the Fire," the former Pulp guitarist captures the epic sweep and quiet elegance of the classic Nashville sound.

courtesy of the artist

In the standout waltz "Ashes on the Fire," Hawley keeps the tempo languid while his baritone flickers with rough-hewn romanticism. "This morning brought sorrow / This morning brought tears," he sings. "They bloomed like a flower from deep-seated fears."

Hawley pulls out all the stops here, conjuring memories of Roy Orbison, but "Ashes on the Fire" is hardly a one-man show. His bandmates bring the elements together flawlessly, thanks to Dean Beresford's gentle percussion, the sonorous strum of a Spanish guitar and a penchant for unconventional instrumentation, including tremolo mandolas and a celeste. The end result is surprisingly austere and richly textured, demonstrating that the classic Nashville ballad sound still takes root among the living.

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