Belated, unexpected, but welcome 4* from MOJO magazine (March 2010)

Deceptively downhome 10 tracker, part-funded by the Scottish Arts Council

Fans of Viking Moses ‘Crosses’ and Sufjan Stevens ‘Seven Swans’ will warm to the rustic instrumentation and visionary undertow of Edinburgh’s Withered Hand. And at times on this impressive debut Dan Willson’s alter ego attains the celestial lustre of that holy grail of lapsed evangelical folk nouveau, the first Palace Brothers album. The individual lines which jump out on first hearing – from the sardonic “Why did Nirvana ever bother to play here?” to the frankly disconcerting “I beat myself off when i sleep on your futon” – settle back luxuriously on subsequent listens into beautifully constructed lyrical frameworks. And while Withered Hand may lack the commercial clout of previous Scottish Arts Council beneficiaries Snow Patrol and Belle and Sebastian, converts to his banjo-tinged brand of Caledonian gospel will sing its praises with a zeal worthy of John Calvin.

Ben Thompson