Sound Advice - Our New Favourite (Scottish) Band
- Anna Docherty
- 1 March 2009
Anna Docherty selects the band you should seek out and adopt as your own
The name sounds like it could be the title of a twisted fairytale about a reclusive boy with a deformed limb (or maybe that’s just me?). But upon listening to Withered Hand this sinister moniker becomes all the more fitting, as embedded within the music is an aptitude for dark storytelling. Dan Willson, the man behind Withered Hand, thoughtfully ponders the crucial question of what character he would play in this tale; ‘well, I suppose I would be a kind of creepy rumplestiltskin type’.
Indeed, storytelling is something particular to many nu-folk artists, as traditionally folk music had an involvement with the oral custom of telling ‘folk tales’. The nu-folk genre has the ‘cool’ edge right now, in that it exists a little below the radar. But for this, Willson is thankful. ‘To me it's about art and communicating human experience; and how well-known people are in the music business is usually in inverse proportion to how interesting I find them’.
Because of this, Withered Hand often play small and interesting venues and, like many nu-folk artists, Willson has turned to DIY promoters. These promoters use disused church halls, little experimental art galleries and old theatres to put on shows and this suits his personal musical ethos; ‘we’re all doing something slightly different and DIY promoters help support our individuality of sound’. And it is in these little venues that the sound of someone like Willson can really resonate.
His is a shaky, slightly punk-ish voice that teeters on the verge of what sounds like a vocal breakdown. Over each track his vocals floats like a ghost; droney lyrics held together by weeping violins and hesitating guitar strings. His tales are bittersweet; like on ‘Religious Song’ (the title track from his debut EP Religious Songs) with its dejeted protagonist; ‘how does he really expect to be happy, when he listens to death metal bands’. It’s all slightly weird (but good weird; not lyrics-about-actual-happy-stuff weird).
Everything just seems to add to the wonderful mystery of Withered Hand’s sound, so if you get the chance, don’t miss them.
Visit www.myspace.com/witheredhandmusic for latest gigs and releases.