Setanta – 2001 – 22 minutes

Former guitarist with Sheffield Britpop wannabes, Longpigs, Richard Hawley has since worked as a session musician with the likes of Pulp, Finlay Quaye and All Saints, none of which leads you to expect a great deal from his eponymous debut mini-album. But you'd be very, very wrong.

Squeezing seven songs into just twenty-two minutes, 'Richard Hawley' is short, sweet and very much to the point, yet it never feels hurried. Opening track, 'Coming Home', drifts along like a gentle summer breeze on a Sunday afternoon, slightly reminiscent of fifties hit 'Love is Strange' by Mickey and Sylvia. In fact, a dreamy fifties air permeates the whole album as Hawley follows in the footsteps of fellow golden-throated lounge lizards such as Liam McKahey from Cousteau and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, while avoiding the cynicism of the latter.

Singing in a tender whisper, Hawley's romanticism is full-blown, no irony here and all the better for it. The art of songwriting is alive and well and living in Sheffield.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Coming Home - Bang The Rights - Sunlight - Caravan - Naked in Pitsmoor - Time Has Made a Change - Happy Families