New Gods is the long-awaited second album by Withered Hand (aka Edinburgh-based folk-rock troubadour Dan Willson), released earlier this year via Fortuna POP! (UK/Europe) andSlumberland (US/Canada). The eleven meditations on love, fidelity and transience therein see Willson’s songwriting hit dizzying heights: by turns confessional and melancholy, raucous and life-affirming; his trademark dark humour turned down a wee notch; life, in all its many facets, turned up to full.
Active in the world of visual art and dabbling in music for many years, Dan Willson came late to singing and songwriting at age 30, in a period of reflection between the death of a close friend and the birth of his first child. The resultant material, much of which went on to become the album Good News, was praised for its depth and startling honesty, and won him accolades from the likes of Rolling Stone and Mojo, as well as fans from Jarvis Cocker toMarc Riley. The ensuing years saw him embraced by the now-defunct Fife-based musical powerhouse the Fence Collective and his songs picked up by MTV and cult series Skins.
A prolific live performer, Withered Hand’s live shows have recent included Pam Berry of seminal 90s US noise-pop band Black Tambourine (who also contributes vocals to the new album) amid a rotating cast of musical friends embellishing Dan’s exuberant and original songwriting, alongside his fragile and uplifting solo performances.
Aided by a grant from arts council body Creative Scotland, New Gods saw Withered Hand entering a proper studio for the first time to work with legendary Scottish producer Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, Mountain Goats, Teenage Fanclub), and features guest appearances from a veritable who’s who of Scottish music including King Creosote, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, and members of Belle & Sebastian (Stevie Jackson, Chris Geddes) and Frightened Rabbit (Scott Hutchison).
The five years since Good News was recorded has seen Willson honing his craft, building his audience and gaining critical momentum. The new album is a beautifully executed collection of songs from one of Scotland’s most gifted songwriters.
‘Beautifully constructed lyrical frameworks… on this banjo-tinged brand of Caledonian gospel’ – Mojo, 4*
‘The UK’s best lyricist’ – King Creosote