Nick Hornby is one of my favorite writers. I like the way he writes about music by telling stories, and I like the way he tells stories by writing about music. I'll sit down to read his thoughts on a record, and I'll end up reading about how a song changed his life.
In my fantasy world, Nick Hornby is my wise musical friend -- you know, that guy who spends all his free time listening to music, knows every weird band, and always has the perfect musical recommendation for you. In this alternate world, Nick Hornby gives me a call whenever he's passing through Baltimore and turns me on to a bunch of great new music.
Of course that never happens, but if it did, I'm pretty sure Nick would've turned me on to this album.
That's what kind of album this is. This is the kind of album that your wise musical friend says you must hear. So you listen, and as so often happens, your wise musical friend is absolutely right.
Lady's Bridge is an album to listen to at night, when you're sad and alone. This is also an album that's dangerous to listen to at night, when you're sad and alone, because it knows how you feel and will help you to keep feeling that way. But it will remind you that you're not really alone. At the very least, Richard Hawley is there with you. The two of you can stand on the bridge between the past and the future, and throw stones into the water, and be at peace... for a while... before you move on.
For whatever reason, the cover photo makes me think of Ben Stein, so that's an immediate half-library-card ding. Otherwise, this package is as good as the music. Every photo is gorgeous in its own, understated right, but more importantly, every photo tells a story about loneliness and loss and sadness. I could've lived without the color filters on the pictures, but they don't bother me as much as most cheesy Photoshop tricks. The lyrics are included, and the two quotes about the real Lady's Bridge (a bridge in England) tie the entire package together.
Listen if you like: Roy Orbison, Chris Isaak, Elvis before he became a caricature of himself, Morrissey's Vauxhall & I and Your Arsenal. "The Sun Refused to Shine" could've been on The Cure's Disintegration, and "Tonight the Streets Are Ours" captures the essence of Springsteen without sounding anything like him.
If it were food, it'd be: "I have crossed Lady's Bridge back and forth many times over the years, mainly to get to Kenny's Records on one side (now long gone sadly) or to the Castle Market on the other, both places provided me with food of different sorts." (from Hawley's quote in the liner notes.) If Lady's Bridge were food, it'd be the kind you get on a day when you visit both the grocery store and the record store.