The Herald reviews Queen’s Hall headline festival show
Nicola Meighan August 2012

“a packed Queen’s Hall, which saw our hero deliver sing-a-long favourites, including the existential alt-folk of Love in the Time of Ecstasy and the mortal thrash-pop of Heart Heart. He also unveiled new songs, including A New Case which was penned for Cora Bissett’s cross-platform pop venture, Whatever Gets You Through The Night. A brand new track, Jubilee, pulled the biggest punch, and it promises greater things yet of Withered Hand. Willson played it tentatively in his afternoon set, and by the time he revisited it in the evening, it sounded like a pop-rock anthem. Amid the do-be-dos and melodic swoon was a memorable refrain, “I did it again.” He did that alright.” ****

Rolling Stone Magazine (USA)
Christian Hoard October 2011

“Killer melodies… wobbly folk grooves…as melodic wimps go, he’s up there with fellow Scots Belle and Sebastian; his tunes full of warm, woozy singsong charm” – Artist To Watch

MSN ‘Expert Witness’ Music Reviews – Good News (USA)
Robert Christgau 16/08/11

“Quavering wordy tunes that make Belle and Sebastian sound like the Beach Boys, only he has a band and they really are tunes, he surveys his doubt-ridden world with uneasy resolve and disillusioned, self-deprecating wit.”
Grade: A-

The Scotsman: Review – Fence Collective @ Oran Mor, Glasgow
Sue Wilson, 08/06/2011

“Withered Hand, aka Dan Willson, consolidated his rising-star status with a mix of febrile intensity and faintly distrait self-deprecation, the potency of his singing allied with arresting imagery and crafty rhymes.”

The Scotsman: Review – Stag and Dagger Festival
Nick Mitchell, 24/05/2011

“Sometimes it takes one spellbinding live performance before an artist’s seemingly obvious-to-everyone-else talent really sinks in. I’ve always appreciated Dan Willson’s songcraft in a rather passive way, but I walked away from this Withered Hand solo show a fully subscribed fan – and I wasn’t the only one. The Edinburgh troubadour looks isolated at first on the empty ABC2 stage, but as he strums the first minor notes of ‘No Cigarettes’ any doubts are utterly dispelled. True, there is a Daniel Johnston-like vulnerability to Willson’s wistful vocals, but this is absolutely integral to his appeal, and lends other favourites like ‘Religious Songs’ their emotive resonance.”

SXSW writer Linda Park rolls out the welcome carpet
Linda Park, 15/03/2011

“The act I’m most excited to see at this year’s festival (and really, you probably know because I’ve written about him a bit ad nauseum over the last week or so) is Scotland’s Withered Hand otherwise known as Dan Willson.”

Official SXSW website

You Ain’t No Picasso on ‘Religious Songs’
Matt Jordan, 14/03/2011

“Man, what a great one this is. Scottish folk singer Withered Hand has written one of the best songs questioning religion that I’ve ever heard. The song isn’t overly critical, sappy or anything other than beautiful and honest.”


“Bummed-out folk with the saddest, most beautiful wistful sparkly banjo jams and the most hilarious, and yet totally heart-melting, lyrics ever, sung with a grizzled UK croak that’s hard not to love.”

My Old Kentucky Blog previews single, New Dawn, and US dates

“…lightly-strummed, but propulsive acoustic skimming over a simple, uncluttered arrangement, New Dawn is certain to find favor with fans of fellow Scots Belle and Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit, as well as those for whom John Darnielle represents the unattainable. Highly recommended.”

God Is In The TV – Tips for 2011
Jennifer Flett, 06/02/2011

“Withered Hand are a product of the ‘anti-folk’ scene, headed by Dan Willson who either plays live with other members or solo whilst on tour, they are slowly beginning to make their mark on both sides of the pond with their whimsical lyrics and affecting folk style.”

Kind words from Malcolm Middleton
September 2010

“Thank fuck for Withered Hand” – Malcolm Middleton

“What’s Nu Pussycat?” – GUARDIAN Musicblog
June 2010

“If you want to hear an album that genuinely does justice to the manna-from-heaven style succour that Domino Records’ pre-Franz Ferdinand roster of US acoustic misfits gave to those wandering in the post-Britpop wilderness, Good News by Withered Hand (aka Scottish Arts Council-assisted troubadour Dan Willson) is the one to go for. Not so much for its explicit acknowledgement of aesthetic debt (lines about writing “the Silver Jews” on people’s shoulder bags will only take you so far) as for the authentically homegrown twist the songwriting manages to put on its transatlantic influences.”

MOJO Magazine: Good News review (****)
Ben Thompson, 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.”

The Scotsman: Good News review (****)
Fiona Shepherd, 14/09/09

“IF YOU didn’t know that Withered Hand was an Edinburgh-based troubadour, you might fancy that Dan Willson hails from the Catskill Mountains or Laurel Canyon, so exquisitely mournful is his take on country music. He displays all the tremulous vocal vulnerability of Neil Young in a set of brittle songs which are full of spiritual yearning, questioning and contentment, inspired by his Christian upbringing.
While most of Good News sounds like it was conceived on a front porch or round a campfire, it also encompasses the hectic lo-fi indie strumming of New Dawn, the rockier strains of Joy and the bittersweet charm of Religious Songs (“my hair’s getting too long for this congregation”). Worth sharing.”

The Scotsman’s Under The Radar blog: So who will be the next Scottish Mercury winner?
Lisa-Marie Ferla, 09/09/09

“Okay, I’ll admit it: on first listen, the odds look steep. Scratchy vocals which could at best be described as eccentric, lo-fi production; lyrics which reference loneliness, depression, religious guilt and masturbation… Withered Hand is hardly a mass-market proposition.
A listen to debut album Good News however reveals an accomplished singer-songwriter in his Sunday best, face washed and long hair tucked behind ears. It’s just as clever, just as raw – but laced with moments of sublime singalong harmony which couldn’t help but raise a smile in the grumpiest of judging panels.
Every one of these lists needs a singer-songwriter, and you’d be hard placed to find a better one in Scotland than Dan Willson. Antony and the Johnsons’ strangled frog vocals took the Mercury crown, Badly Drawn Boy strummed and hummed his way to the prize – if there was any justice, Withered Hand should too.”

The Herald: Good News review (*****)
Alan Morrison, 05/09/09

“Edinburgh songwriter Dan Willson lives in the shadow of Neil Young… or maybe in the shadow of a Neil Young clone who might ‘get trashed on tonic wine’ (I Am Nothing) before straying into Frightened Rabbit’s lyrical territory to work religious references into forthright love songs set in a secular world. Musically, to pick another by no means overstated comparison, Willson is a one-man Fleet Foxes with a voice that, one moment, sounds on the brink of collapse; the next, is filled with humour, emotion and self-knowledge. It is quite some time since a debut release has placed 10 such perfect songs back to back. Yes, the influences are obvious, but this is the album Neil Young wishes he could still make.”

The List: Good News review (****)
Nicola Meighan, 03/09/09

“Withered Hand is not, alas, a Jeremy Beadle tribute band. It is, however, the nom de plume of Edinburgh alt.folk messiah Dan Willson – and for said dude we should give thanks.
Willson is a curious pop disciple: a deadpan bard eternally vexed by the doctrines of God, the inconsequence of life, and the transparent nature of modern swimwear. Good News, his gorgeous debut album, delivers a compendium of warped-rock sermons that variously reference Seventh-day Adventism (‘Cornflake’); lyrical post-rationalisation (‘For the Maudlin’); and knocking one out on your paramour’s couch (‘Religious Songs’, his signature anthem).
Despite his dedication to a DIY cause that’s seen Withered Hand galvanise Edinburgh’s live terrain and perform with Jeffrey Lewis and Calvin Johnson, Willson’s quavering vocals and acoustic eulogies elicit heavy-hitters Bright Eyes (on woebegone porch-swing opener ‘Providence’) – and even Neil Young at times.
Fans will recognise much of Good News: previous Withered Hand singles feature, but they’re (needlessly) tweaked by producer Kramer (Low, Daniel Johnston). Hence deficit aria ‘No Cigarettes’ surrenders some of its vulnerability, while a refinement of ‘Religious Songs’ misplaces the hymn’s initial scrabbly desperation.
This is a minor quibble. Willson’s sing-a-long afflictions and satirical narratives are marvellous. ‘Lord… won’t you listen to me, your unfaithful servant’s filthy fucking language’, he importunes on ‘Love in the Time of Ecstasy’, a sonorous ‘so-what’ to the hereafter.
‘In the greater scheme of things, I am nothing’, he later claims – which just goes to show that, despite being splendid, Withered Hand is not always right.”

Julian Cope reviews Good News
Julian Cope, November 2009

“A refreshing lager beer of a record”

The Skinny: Review of Retreat! festival (****)
Lauren Mayberry, 01/09/09

“Withered Hand’s main man may be one of the most awkward people ever to find themselves on a stage.”

The Skinny: Good News review (****)
Ally Brown, 24/08/09

“By the time Edinburgh’s Withered Hand opens Good News’s final track with ‘maybe the world would be better without me’, you’ll want to give him a slap and tell him to pull himself together. Depression is a mental illness and that line proves Dan Willson is delusional. That’s the bad news; the good news is that his debut album makes good on the promise of his two early EPs, partly because four of his strongest early songs are included here too. Supported by local musicians, including his friends in Meursault, Willson ponders his own existentialist quandaries on standouts Love In The Time Of Ecstasy and I Am Nothing. But all the self-deprecation and talk of alienation would get dreary were it not laced with dry humour. Every track features a handful of great lines, but Religious Songs is both his most quotable and most graceful number. The world is better for songwriters like Willson.”

The Scotsman: On The Radar column
Stevie Kearney, 08/06/09

“Based in Edinburgh for the last 13 years, Willson is quick to proclaim his love for the city, but admits to initially being ‘terrified of microphones’. Asked why he makes music, he states simply: ‘Because I can’t really stop. I have tried. It is my way of making sense of being here. I used to draw a lot more and now I write songs. I have to have some kind of creative outlet otherwise I’m hell to be around’.”

The Skinny: You’re Not Alone review (****)
Milo McLaughlin, 02/06/09

“After the rollicking full band sing-along of first EP Religious Songs, this second EP showcases the more reflective side of Withered Hand’s Dan Willson, here performing solo with a beautifully restrained multi-instrumental accompaniment by King Creosote, who also produced. The same endearingly fragile delivery and razor sharp one-liners remain, but this time around the emotional clout is a whole lot more forceful. Opener No Cigarettes with its Dylan-esque rolling guitar and Oldsmobile Car (aka Red Candle Bulb) with its killer line ‘I am what was once widely known as a sensitive soul’ are accompanied by a moving tribute to the late local artist Paul Carter and a transcendental harmony-laden version of Tiger Saw’s R U Courageous. Gorgeous, and a must for modern folk fans.” You’re Not Alone review
Sean Michaels, 25/05/09

“Withered Hand is my favourite new Scottish artist”

The Skinny: ‘Beginning To Flourish’ feature
Jason Morton, 03/03/09

“This intimate approach factors into Willson’s live gigs as well where, after playing both large venues and house parties, he says: ‘It’s obvious which is the plum gig, which one is more fun and makes more of a connection with people.’ In the world of Withered Hand, music is not just a performance, but a way to communicate with friends as well as a crowd.”

“Some of our favorite songs of 2008 – I Am Nothing – A little self-pity every now and then never hurt anyone.” McSweeney’s Recommends
September 2008

“‘How can you expect to be happy, when you listen to death metal bands?’ beseeches Edinburgh versifier and DIY renaissance man Dan Willson, aka the fantastical Withered Hand, on his recent Religious Songs EP. It’s a scratchy, grassroots unification of alt-pop, skewed folk and punk intention, released on heroic local imprint Bear Scotland: a bedroom enterprise so audacious it has its own (excellent) coat of arms.” live review
John Mackie, 26/08/08

“Being a sad old person, I think I’m just so happy to listen to somebody who seems to write about life remotely as I know it – domestic despair, late night wanderings, uncertainty, where is my direction in life?, is there any point to ‘having a direction?’, bemusement, the search for happiness/meaning etc. These themes are all here in the wonderful music of Withered Hand and within the songs on his fantastic Religious Songs EP. This week it really has been ‘seldom off my turntable’…in a virtual sense.”

Great long interview with Chris Hynd on, 07/06/08

The Skinny: I Hear A New World column
Milo McLaughlin, 09/05/08

“Not many religious songs contain the line ‘I beat myself off when I sleep on your futon’ but the title track from Withered Hand’s new EP (released on new label Bear Scotland) combines themes of faith, doubt, sex and inexplicably uncomfortable furniture without blinking an eye. A key member of the delightful but short-lived anti-folk outfit The Love Gestures, he’s also recently played at the Fence Collective’s Homegame festival in Anstruther and at a special Scottish Hobo Society event as part of the (sob) last ever Triptych.” Religious Songs review
Sean Michaels, 25/04/08

“Here’s Edinburgh’s Withered Hand using mandolin, guitar, cello and his voice to shake all the dust from him, all the stray feelings, all the loose longings; so that at end of song he’ll be just a body and the light in his eyes.”

Scotsman review of Homegame V
Malcolm Jack, 31/03/08

“Raging eccentric Withered Hand – a fantastically flaky, tiny-voiced Edinburgh strummer reminiscent of alt-folk loon Daniel Johnston – made for a somehow fitting finale. His set climaxed with the spectacle of a low-slung banjo being raked with a violin bow, Jimmy Page-style, in a kind of elemental fusion of folk, punk and hard rock. If Homegame can continue to survive just so that happens once more every year, the world will surely be a better place for it.”