Two sides to every story, certainly two sides to Dan Whitehouse. They’re differences he’s keen to explore on this double CD. The first a tentative trial of concentrated material, it’s powerful and at times quite dark. The other more familiar, the sound of singer songwriter reflection with stripped back melodies.
Two discs, so, two producers. First up ‘Dreamland,’ sees label M.D. Tom Rose handling the more experimental, we’re not talking as bizarre as Scott Walker, yet still untried and bold. There’s meaningful collusion with minimalist composer Richard Birkin and jazz saxophonist Xhosa Cole on display. The second ‘Tomorrow’ bears the unmistakable sound of the ubiquitous Boo Hewerdine whose own works Whitehouse covers, ‘The Birds Are Leaving,’ an effective finale.
The tracks on ‘Dreamland,’ are the result of producer and artist in close consultation, there’s even a cover of The Trashcan Sinatras, that’s morphed and changed. ‘Dreamland,’ itself references a place which seems more hellish than dreamlike with lyrics of half cursed playgrounds and twisted bones, the arrangement appropriately chilling. ‘The State Of the English,’ a wry comment on our times and nation, it drives and thuds along on a New Order like groove. A country divided and failing, “no one sees past their screens,” howls Whitehouse in rage as the many look blankly at mobile phones ignoring the crumbling social fabric.
‘Tomorrow,’ is a contrast in approaches, here simple plucked guitar lines and moody keyboards buoy the songs. ‘In My Dreams,’ suggests escape by deep reverie, ‘ Given Up,’ unlocks a man’s effort for a son who he doesn’t really understand. Yet liberty is at hand, ‘ The Wall Inside Her Head,’ showing that despite circumstance hope survives inside us all if we can just tap into it.
Dan Whitehouse it seems may not like today but at least he promises there might be a better tomorrow. It’s down to us all. Sage advice.