Label: Mute> Release date: 07/06/10 Link: Official Site It’s a funny little release, this one. Sheffield’s resident treacle-voiced troubadour du temp, Richard Hawley, is at the top of his game at the moment and can seemingly do little wrong. Having reached the enviable stage as a musician where his label, Mute, will pretty much let him do as he pleases, his latest release is an idiosyncratic quartet of songs - some new, some old, some covers but all resoundingly wonderful. Hawley, having recently fronted a BBC Radio 2 series ‘The Ocean’, was so influenced by the subject matter that he decided to release this limited edition 10” only False Lights From The Sea EP as a homage to the sea. With the typical Hawley melancholia saturating the music throughout, the first track – the sublime ‘Remorse Code’ – will be familiar to owners of Hawley’s latest LP Truelove’s Gutter since it has been lifted directly from the album. A peculiar decision perhaps, but since the track is so magnificent it simply doesn’t matter. In fact, I would be happy if ‘Remorse Code’ was included on every single album released from now to the end of days. Next up we have a traditional a capella West Indian sea shanty ‘Shallow Brown’ with haunting guest vocals from Jack White’s favourite folk duo The Smoke Fairies. This is the sort of track that you want playing every night as you drift off to sleep. Not to everyone’s taste, ‘Shallow Brown’ won’t be bothering the radio airwaves any time soon, but then it was never intended to. This is Hawley exercising his rights as an experimental artist and he does a damn fine job. Second cover on the EP comes in the form of the mournful Manx elegy ‘The Ellan Vannin Tragedy’, recorded most famously by The Spinners. Telling the tale of the loss of the SS Ellan Vannin on the Mersey over a century ago, it is a dark and morose Hawley recording with The Smoke Fairies once again providing the backing vocals. With a touch of the Nick Caves about it, it is a delicate and sombre ditty with a beautifully rich instrumentation that compliments Hawley’s smooth baritone vocals perfectly. Finally we are presented with the only unreleased track on the EP ‘There’s A Storm A’Comin’. Hawley returns to more familiar crooner territory here, with echoing 50’s guitar arpeggios and softly brushed drums. It is a charming song, by all accounts, but after stepping out of his comfort zone on the two previous tracks, it seems a little too easy an addition to this quirky release and as the only original Hawley recording, it may not prove to be a strong enough attraction to the EP for anyone other than his most die hard of fans. That said, this is a brilliant and eclectic collection of songs, regardless to there only being one original recording on there, and showcases the talents of one of the most interesting and endearingly modest artists we have in the UK at the moment. If this EP is simply the product of a Hawley whim, then I cannot wait to hear what he will do when he is truly focussed on his next complete album.