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Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Withered Hand - How To Love


I do like to moan about the UK music scene, born out of frustration with how regional it has become, yet all the majors still think it is about London. So it seems fitting to end May with a triumph from these Brexit battered lands. 

It has been 9 years since the superb New Gods. During that gap, Dan Willson has been battling and eventually going a large way to conquering mental health issues. So How To Love becomes an almost celebratory affair at a life worth living.

This is a real singer songwriter's album, possibly the best you'll hear in a long time. The lyrics and subjects reveal the struggles, but all are surrounded by uplifting joyful arrangements. For the unnitiated on here, Willson's singing voice is soothing, imagine Nick Piunti on his slower songs.

The mix of Pop Rock, Classic Rock and Americana just delights you. Songs are beautifully arranged and performed. Yet on listening to the opener, Feelings, you would be led to believe that you are in for a Power Pop treat. Only the horns give the game away and from there on you are just captivated.

Waking Up is all Van Morrison with its big Rolling Revue arrangement and joyous organ. Misery & Company is also Big Music, but tender acoustic moments also thrill, Crippled Love is aching Americana and Comedown closes the album with lyrics that provoke accompanied by a jangling riff.

Serenity Prayer is all 70s weeping Country / West Coast Rock. Still Quiet Voice is built around a jaunty arrangement, yet still sounds a little Out Of Time R.E.M. Give Myself is Guitar dominated whilst having a foot in happy clappy and what about that twanging riff? How To Love is an absolute Tour De Force.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


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