Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Recommended music: 'New Gods' by Withered Hand

It's been a long wait (nearly 5 years) for this new Withered Hand album, and while both he and we might be a bit older and a bit wiser since 'Good News', Dan Willson's talent for writing great tunes with wry lyrics has certainly not depreciated.

The record mixes pacey numbers like 'Black Tambourine' with quieter, more introspective ones like 'Love Over Desire' and 'California', and he manages to pull it all off with aplomb. One of Willson's chief skills is in writing lyrics that the listener is able to dive right into and inhabit - at times funny, and at others heartbreaking, he never fails to deliver something that it utterly believable.

Overall the album is a more polished and mature record than 'Good News'. Perhaps the most telling sign of this new-found maturity is the title of 'Love Over Desire' - while there are still references to sex ("I was thinking of sex, you were dreaming of ruin" on 'Between True Love and Ruin', or the mention of 'travel pussy', which Dan has helpfully pointed out is a male sex toy you can buy from vending machines in European service stations), he seems to be driven more by the pull of his heart than the thrust of his groin these days.

The record ends with the perfectly uplifting 'Not Alone' - if you're not moved by the trumpets, and if you can manage to resist singing along with its 'na na na' chorus, then you're stronger willed than I am. In summary, this is a brilliantly crafted and immaculately executed album from one of the (hidden) treasures of our time. Listening to Dan Willson's songs is guaranteed to make you a better person. There's a couple from the album below to get you started.

PS Do it properly, go old school and buy it on gold vinyl.

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