DAN Willson was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, but now he is a born again troubadour called Withered Hand (a biblical reference) who writes about his cultish past with self-deprecating humour and insightful humanity.
Venue: Glasgow Mono
Rating: * * * *
Review: Fiona Shepherd
His 2009 debut album, Good News, is a spindly, lo-fi gem, rendered in his reedy, plaintive and affecting tones. But for this show, he was backed by full band, strings, accordian and rhythm section, bringing out the folk and country flavours of his music, while retaining the charming naivety.
Suitably souped up with mandolin and backing harmonies, Love In The Time Of Ecstasy was imbued with a delicate, devotional quality, while the indie canter of New Dawn gained some testifying momentum.
No Cigarettes, a gorgeous heartbreaker, was handled with care, requiring little more than Willson’s sensitive delivery to carry it off. A couple of new songs didn’t quite have the same melodic pull but any writer would find it a challenge to top the likes of Religious Songs, a darkly witty portrait of the days when he would go “knocking on Kevin’s door”.
US singer/songwriter support – and Withered Hand penpal – Charles Latham is a similarly droll lyricist, heading off the sappy self-pitying potential of numbers such as Everybody Likes Me, Why Don’t You? with laugh-out-loud lines and truly bad Scottish jokes. His conversational vocal style and simple, smart, sometimes satirical rhyming couplets were reminiscent of an indie Loudon Wainwright.