Richard Hawley’s 2001 self-titled debut album is by no means his best, but as Hawley’s first effort as a solo artist, it is characteristically understated and charismatic. Re-released in 2007 by Setanta Records with 5 bonus tracks, the album sprang forth one particularly notable edition: a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Troublesome Waters‘.
While the songwriting on Richard Hawley leaves a lot to be desired, and even though there are far too many loop-led, 2-minute tracks for a solo songwriter to expect to get away with, Hawley’s debut plants the seeds of the soundscape he would later go on to cultivate and master. Everything Hawley is loved for – his charisma, romance, songwriting style and deep, elegant guitar sounds – can be found on this album, if incomplete and unpolished.
The brilliant sound Hawley orchestrates on his brilliant re-imagining of Cash’s ‘Troublesome Waters’ is the tip of the iceberg of what was to become his later discography. Deeply textured with a solemn air of simplicity, and delivered in a vocal style honourable to Cash himself, with ‘Troublesome Waters’ Hawley carves himself a place in the niche of matured, noble voices who can evoke the deepest of emotions.
In 2006, Hawley reaffirmed his respect of Cash in the studio once more. As a b-side to his 2006 single ‘Just Like the Rain’, Hawley covered ‘Long Black Veil‘. Originally performed by Lefty Firzzell, the song is widely known as a Cash standard and it is in the vein of Cash’s cover which Hawley performs his own rendition. In deep vocal tones and with up-tempo country charm, Hawley once again pays homage to his Americana influences.