Edinburgh-based folk rock outfit Withered Hand, aka singer songwriter Dan Willson, came late to the song writing game at the age of 30. Though he had dabbled in music, and was creatively active in the visual arts world, it was after a period of reflection between the death of a close friend, and the birth of his first child that brought him to found Withered Hand. Much of the resultant material became his acclaimed 2009 debut album, ‘Good News’, which was praised for its depth and its honesty.
His follow-up album, ‘New Gods’, is due for release next spring and comes after a sizeable five year gap in which Dan has been busy honing his craft and building his fanbase, accompanied by a couple of EP releases. But his career certainly hasn’t been hibernating.
Withered Hand has been embraced by Fife-based indie record label Fence Collective, seen songs picked up on MTV and cult TV show ‘Skins’, and gained notable fans including Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Rolling Stone Magazine USA, who labelled him as an “Artist to Watch”. He is also a prolific live performer, having collaborated onstage with the likes of Pam Berry from influential 90s US noisepop band Black Tambourine, as well as an ever-changing cast of musical friends to complement and enhance his accomplished song writing alongside heartfelt and inspiriting solo performances.
The upcoming album is also no stranger to such illustrious collaborations. Produced by Tony Doogan and part-funded by Creative Scotland, ‘New Gods’ features the musical talents of artists such as Pam Berry, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines and members of Belle & Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit.
Clean and crisp, single ‘Black Tambourine’, taken from the upcoming album, is like a sharp autumn morning. Upbeat and bright, Dan’s voice has just enough of a softened, fuzzy edge to give him that nostalgic folk sound, reminiscent of the 70s folk scene, with a snatch of 90s indie music. The track is sentimental without becoming cliché, it’s dreamy without becoming self-indulgent, it places images of cornfields and tyre swings into your head, all shot in soft focus.
The perfect precursor to summer, the album’s spring release is brilliantly timed to make it the essential summer soundtrack, the natural accompaniment to sunny afternoons and bottles of pear cider. Despite the late entry into his music career, Withered Hand has made undeniably impressive progress which, if the ‘New Gods’ teaser trailer is anything to go by, can only continue.