Talisman: noun an object thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck — ORIGIN Arabic, apparently from Greek telesma ‘completion, religious rite’.
You know this time’s for real
It helps the heart to heal
You know it breaks the seal of the talisman that harms
And so you look at me and need
The space that means as much to me
(Richard Hawley, ‘The Ocean’)
Sheffield singer Richard Hawley, formerly of Longpigs and Pulp, came to prominence in 2006 when his breakthrough album Coles Corner was nominated for the Mercury Prize. His laconic and thoughtful songs display a rare maturity and gravity in a music market overcrowded with hype. And it’s most likely he’s the coolest Sheffield Wednesday supporter in existence.
The Ocean is a sweeping ballad that’s probably best listened to in the context of the whole album rather than as a stand-alone snippet. While the official video for the song can be found here, I think it portrays Hawley a bit out of context: rather cliched helicopter shots whilst standing atop rocky coastlines in the tradition of MOR ballads. I actually prefer a much more basic clip taken in Barcelona on someone’s personal video camera, which works because it’s so simple – just five minutes of video taken late at night as a group of friends drive homewards after a night on the town. It’s more genuine and succeeds because Hawley’s songs are in their element in the wee small hours, not in the bright glare of midday sunshine.