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Good News

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Keenly awaited by followers of Edinburgh’s recent musical renaissance, Good News is the debut album from the city’s premier antifolk songsmith, Withered Hand.

Made possible through support from the Scottish Arts Council, the album has been recorded with cult American producer Kramer (Galaxie 500 / Low / Daniel Johnston), who first contacted songwriter Dan Willson several years ago after stumbling upon his scratchy, home-recorded demos posted online.

Markedly more lush and polished than those early recordings, Good News sees Willson augmenting his regular live band – Neil Pennycook (Meursault), Alun Thomas (The Leg) and Hannah Shepherd – with the voices of local celebrity Bart Owl (eagleowl) and Lone Pigeon/Aliens collaborator Jo Foster.

‘I don’t need lights on my push-bike – my light comes from inside.’

After years contentedly ploughing their own furrow within Edinburgh’s traditionally self-contained pop underground, Withered Hand have lately been gathering critical acclaim from farther afield. Regular airplay from the likes of Gideon Coe, Marc Riley, Tom Robinson, Vic Galloway and Rob Da Bank has led to live sessions being recorded for BBC Radio Scotland and BBC 6Music; and in recent months the band have been invited to play at festivals all over the country, including Fence Records’ Homegame, Triptych, The Tennents Mutual, and Edinburgh’s own Edge Festival.

‘Lord, won’t you deliver me from the wave machine and the transparent bikini?’

The album is titled Good News in reference to Willson’s evangelical Christian childhood – and, accordingly, a theme of spiritual conflict and yearning runs through many of these songs. A few (‘Religious Songs’, ‘I Am Nothing’, ‘No Cigarettes’) will be familiar from the band’s first two EPs; the rest are previously unreleased. Two tracks are covers: ‘Joy’ was originally recorded by one of drummer Alun’s previous bands, Desc, and ‘Hard-on’ originally by Philadelphian songwriter Charles Latham.

This beautiful record marks a new phase in the development of an extraordinary songwriter and a much-loved Edinburgh institution. The band will be promoting its release with several Edinburgh shows in August and September and a Scottish tour later in the year.

Praise for Withered Hand’s You’re Not Alone EP (Fence/SL, May 2009):

‘Gorgeous, and a must for modern folk fans.’ (The Skinny, June 2009)

‘At times painfully honest and introspective, Willson's folk pop style marks him as an artist with a lot to say, and someone who manages to speak with a refreshing intelligence, placing him at the pinnacle of Edinburgh's live music scene as a true must-see act.’ (The Scotsman, June 2009)

‘My favourite new Scottish artist.’ (Said The Gramophone, Canada, May 2009)

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