Richard Hawley’s ambitions for his latest long-player are anything but hollow.
The 48-year-old, one of Sheffield’s favourite musical sons, has a simple hope – that it will enable him to make another album.
“I’m not an ambitious person,” he says.
“The only thing I ever want is to earn the right to make another album. It’s a very simple thing, to keep going and not get distracted by everything else.”
But that will be difficult if Hollow Meadows enjoys anywhere near the success of his last long-player – Standing at the Sky’s Edge reached number three in the charts and was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Prize.
“You have to be careful not to become more successful than your music,” he says. “You have to avoid the celebrity world. I have watched it with other artists who become the observed, not the observer and that means you can’t have focus.”
It is also one of the reasons Hawley loves his home city of Sheffield – there is so much life to observe.
“I just don’t seem to have run out of ideas,” he says.
“Living in Sheffield and being brought up here, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
“I haven’t got a clue what it’s like to live in Madrid or Rome or Paris, or even Rotherham.
“I write about what I observe on a daily basis. That’s what seems to be real to me.”
The trials and tribulations of the city have provided plenty of material for Richard over the years, going back to his debut solo album, Late Night Final, in 2001.
Ageing, fallibility and relationships are touched upon in his latest release.
“This is my eighth album,” he says proudly, before joking that it is ‘prescription medication’ which keeps him going.
“No, I don’t really know,” he says, thinking more deeply about what drives him.
“I am just a songwriter. I always think of each album as being a sliver of your head.
“If you look at all the works by an author, there’s a strand that collects them together.
“It’s a body of work. It’s my life. It’s trying to keep going as a songwriter.
“It’s the work that drives me. I am not driven by any other issues and I have kept like that for years. It’s important to keep that focus.”
And following albums such as Lowedges, Lady’s Bridge, Coles Corner and the aforementioned Late Night Final and Standing at the Sky’s Edge, his latest long-player is also named after the city.
Hollow Meadows is a tiny village in the Rivelin valley, near Dungworth, formerly home to a truant school and residential hospital which has now been converted into housing.
“Some people will approach you and say I’ve got a brilliant name for your next album, like Corporation Street or Castle Market, and I’ll just politely smile,” says Richard, explaining where the name comes from.
“My friend John, who I go to Sheffield Wednesday games with, said a couple of years ago he had a great name, Hollow Meadows and I did the same thing.
“Then I was talking to my friend JP Bean, the author, and he said that it was an interesting place.
“I did some research and it did my head in – it turns out Hollow is a corruption of the name Hawley.”
Hollow Meadows, which was recorded at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studios, is out today, Friday, September 11.
Richard will be touring in support of the album later this year, including a show at Sheffield Arena’s Steel Hall on Friday, November 6.
n For tickets, priced from £27.50, visit www.sheffieldarena.co.uk
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