Richard Hawley, a former member of Britpop groups Longpigs and Pulp, has produced a series of delightful and always affecting albums that started with his full debut in 2001, Late Night Final (it was preceded by a self-titled EP in 2000), and culminated in a masterpiece with 2009’s Truelove Gutter. The gorgeously melancholy, late night mood of that great triptych of Hawley albums — Coles Corner, Lady’s Bridge, Truelove Gutter — is already evident on the debut, from which the lovely ‘Baby, You’re My Light’ comes. His voice has now dropped a register and the arrangements have become more intricate since Late Night Final, but the basics of the Hawley sound, and the quality, are already there.
Most Hawley songs that address the fancies of romance are downbeat, speaking of loneliness, longing or disappointment. ‘Baby, You’re My Light’, as the title suggests, takes a more upbeat direction as we follow the narrator’s through three stages. First we meet the young man who is awkward in matters of the heart, then the more confident adult who allows himself to take the risks of a broken heart, and finally the seasoned campaigner in romance who yields to love. The opening line is quite wonderful: “First time, the longing in you wears the girl that grows it.”