Published Mar 24, 2014Dan Wilson's debut album as Withered Hand was a wonderfully low-key affair in the grand tradition of Scottish troubadours like Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame and King Creosote. It was hard to believe that he hadn't picked up a guitar until he was 30 because it sounded like he had been writing world-weary songs for decades.
New Gods might initially seem like an altogether different beast, but it really isn't. Wilson is joined by an impressive lineup of fellow Scots such as King Creosote, Eugene Kelly from the Vaselines and members of Frightened Rabbit and Belle & Sebastian, which collectively adds a whole new level of jangle this time around. Yet he's retained all those things that made his debut so memorable: he's still no stranger to melancholy and his turn of phrase is still second to none. He's definitely comfortable in these new clothes.
The songs are still a little rough around the edges despite getting some polish from the production of Tony Doogan, who has done similar things for Mogwai and Hey Rosetta, and they touch upon some of Wilson's musical travels. Ultimately though, the focus is still on the human condition, which he gazes upon sardonically.
With its singalong choruses and eminent likeability, New Gods is the kind of album that will only add to his reputation as being one of Scotland's finest. (Slumberland)