Willson Williams

Kathryn Williams & Withered Hand – Willson Williams (One Little Independent)

Last year, reviewing Withered Hand’s live gig in Edinburgh, he was joined by Kathryn Williams. They alluded to a record they were writing together, to which I wrote ‘please let it be true.’ Well someone up there clearly likes me, at least with regards to this, because a year later and here it is. Let’s just say it’s been worth the wait.

Dan Willson (for it is he) and Kathryn Williams are fine songwriters and their coming together is nothing short of musical alchemy. This album grew out of many things, including grief. The writing process saw them both, tragically, in mourning for separate loved ones; Dan for his brother Karl and his friend Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, and Kathryn for her friend, comedian and BBC Radio 4 presenter Jeremy Hardy.

That’s not to say that it’s a depressing album. It’s beautifully musical and overall it is an album about friendship, from two artists – who already have a great deal of wonderful music behind them separately – complimenting each other well. The first song they wrote for the album was ‘Our Best.’ (Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at the writing sessions, never mind the recording!) Both are sounding at their best vocally and the harmonies are absolutely lovely, as are the responses in songs when they sing to each other. There’s also a great cover of Cat Stevens‘ ‘If you Want To Sing Out, Sing Out‘ (just called ‘Sing Out’ here) as featured in the cult film Harold And Maude.

Whilst I’m trying not to sound over the top about this album, it’s hard when it’s just this damn good. Different listens (trust me, it will be plural) pick up different highlights – I love the vulnerability of ‘Weekend‘ where the theme is wanting to be part of the crowd and yet feeling that you aren’t yet sure how to do it. When the vocals blend together, it’s like the relief when someone else tells you that you’re not alone, and just knowing that is so reassuring.

To listen to this album is like being given a warm hug. One of those that means a whole lot to you, whether you’re crying or laughing or a bit of both. When it’s over, you want to listen to it again, rather than just moving onto another album or getting on with the rest of the day. In the car, I sometimes wait until the song playing has finished; in this case, I’d wait until the whole album has finished playing.

If they never make another album together, they have given us this. I hope (and I’m sure others do, too) that this might be the start of more albums together, in a similar way to Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, or Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. It doesn’t need to sound like any of those acts, of course, it’s just it would be wonderful to have Willson and Williams collaborating with each other, when they’re ready. Support this record, buy a copy, dammit.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.