My most anticipated album of the Fall has to be Richard Hawley’s Lady’s Bridge. (His last, Cole’s Corner, was one of my favorites of 2005.) Until then, we’re going to have to do with the album’s first single, the downright peppy (for him) "Tonight the Streets Are Ours."
Despite the seemingly romantic title, the song is actually inspired by Britain’s controversial Anit-Social Behaviour Order.* Hawley explains:
"I saw this programme on TV about ASBOs and by the end of it I almost shoe’d the telly in. For me it’s quite angry so I wanted to turn that into a positive ’cause I don’t agree with destroying things – well sometimes it’s a good idea. I was sort of imagining the choir in Angels With Dirty Faces, the James Cagney film. There’s a fairground quality to it too. I changed this track quite a bit. It’s huge now. I just think that old people and women and kids should be able to go out on the streets and not be worried about being battered. It’s partly that and the middle section of the song is about how much people need each other, we can’t exist on our own we have to co-exist with each other. But mainly it’s about the brutal ignorance and insensitive way this fucking pile of shit government has decided to deal with anti social behaviour. The future of any country is in its kids and if a shitload of them are basically taught to just be consumers is it a surprise that when they can’t consume because they’re poor that they just go, ‘Well, we’ll take it anyway’? An ASBO doesn’t do anything, it’s just a piece of paper that says ‘Go away’."
The video, directed by Tom Geens, has a Ken Loach or Mike Leigh feel, with the story derived from the lyrics. I asked about it on Hawley’s message board and within a couple hours he wrote back:
"It was directed by Tom Geens, who’s made many brilliant short films, my fave is one called "Wrong." [totally nsf, btw] I came up with the story and was helped greatly by Tom and Libby Dirby of Warp Films. I will always make my videos with them as they totally get what i want to do which is not make dickhead pop star videos — I want to poke fun at myself and the whole bullshit of promo films. I like making them, but only if they entertain or are thought provoking. Ego-driven videos they are awful. The song inspired the idea really, kids trapped in their houses with shit parents and only bollocks daytime telly for company. In the story she only has her mates and grandad in her life that are any good. And, of course, the streets."
While offering a social message, the "Tonight the Streets are Ours" clip is also pretty funny, with Hawley turning up on "bollocks daytime telly" in the guise of a gameshow host and shopping channel pitchman. Have a look:
Hawley’s very active on his board, and will let you know what’s what in no uncertain terms, and quickly. Lady’s Bridge is out August 20 in the UK but America must wait until October 2. Here’s the tracklisting:
2. Roll River Roll
4. Tonight The Streets Are Ours
5. Lady Solitude
6. Dark Road
7. The Sea Calls
8. Lady’s Bridge
9. I’m Looking For Someone To Find Me
10. Our Darkness
The album will be available in a regular and deluxe format, the latter will include a DVD with the "Streets" video as well as a 30-minute short created by Warp Films. He’s also planning to tour the US this Fall, which is good news as his show last Spring at Sin-e was one of my favorites of 2006. If you’ve never heard Richard Hawley, you owe it to yourself to pick up his other albums, all of which are great.
*A little more info on ASBOs. I don’t know that much about it, and am sure I’m getting some facts wrong but here’s what I could glean. Citizens can be given ASBOs, civil sanctions for "conduct which caused or was likely to cause alarm, harassment, or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as him or herself and where it’s seen as necessary to protect relevant persons from further anti-social acts by the Defendant." Sometimes this works like a restraining order but, in some cases, teens have been given ASBOs forbidding them to wear hoodies. Violating as ASBO can result in jail time or the defendent being forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet — as we see in the "Tonight the Streets are Ours" video.