Friday, 6 February 2015

DAN WEBSTER

CD Review

The Tin Man

Dan Webster is one of the growing band of folk/acoustic musicians who have produced their own albums and before you even get to the music the striking monochrome artwork of his gatefold sleeve is reminiscent of The Beatles Revolver.

Dan Webster
If you are going to open an album with style then you might as well make it a gorgeous piece of cello music and this is supplied by Rachel Brown who, together with Webster's slightly gravelly voice, makes it easy to slip into this album and straight away get caught up in Dancers.
There's no two ways about it, Webster has a wealth of emotion in his voice and his singing is solid, clear and very easy on the ear and the ballad does ease you into an album which showcases his versatility.
He picks up the pace for Elvis with a honky tonk/cajun rhythm which is banged out in a toe-tapping way by Yom Hardy, It does have a feel of the late great Kirsty MacColl's There's a Guy Works Down the Chip shop. Webster slows it down again for the gentle ballad Number 17 which is inspired by the bus journeys he used to take and sings of how even a short journey can show you a microcosm of life. His singing, on this one, does bear a remarkable similarity to Elton John. The singer/songwriter shows his emotional side with Gold and Tin. There is a plaintive feel to his singing and his voice has an earthy quality as he stays on the lower part of the scale.
A British Man O War
There is a hint of Simon & Garfunkel in the guitar intro to the ballad What It's For, however, for some reason Webster's voice doesn't sound as confident as on previous tracks. It is a strong jaunty ballad that canters along but it almost seems as if his heart isn't in this one.
Webster's voice takes on another persona for his arrangement of British Man of War, he sounds not a million miles away from Billy Bragg. It's a wonderfully traditional tale of a sailor and the two loves of his life. Gracie Hawkins adds some lovely, subtle harmonies to the song. This slips nicely into the following ballad One To Remember which has a much more country-style and fuller production sound. Webster's voice rises to the occasion building up to a crescendo to take the tune out.
The Tin Man
He gets seriously traditional with an epic track which starts with the Spanish Ladies, another song about life as a sailor out on the mercurial seas, which segues into Johnny Comes Marching Home. The first part does have the feeling of something you would expect from Show of Hands while the second sounds like something in the Merry Hell repertoire as Webster put his foot down on the musical gas but then it slides into a beautifully flowing cello ending courtesy of Brown. For Old Friends he goes back to a country sound again with his gravelly voice making the ballad sound very similar to the Saw Doctors' Clare Island in places. Webster's penultimate track sounds like Brown's cello is playing Over The Rainbow then once again his raucous voice gives it a deeply emotional edge and he sings like someone suffering the pain of serious loss.
The final track on the album is Gin, Webster goes out with all guns blazing in this rock 'n' roll number. His playing is as solid as it gets but his voice doesn't sound entirely comfortable singing the heavier style of music.
The Tin Man is a good album to have in the car, it's one of those where you can rock your head to, sing along to, drum the steering wheel to and thoroughly enjoy yourself.

The Tin Man is released on Paper Plane Records on February 9.








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