Pocklington Arts Centre
Firstly I would like to say what a great venue Pocklington Arts Centre is, it’s extraordinary a venue of this calibre can be found in such a small town. Now this was going to be a review of Glen Tilbrook who has been a hero of mine since his Squeeze days, with a cursory mention of the support act that I was preparing to politely clap for a few numbers, sneak out a couple before the end and beat the rush for the bar. On this occasion I ended up having to queue to get my lager shandy.
Dan walked on stage plugged his guitar in and without a word to the audience blasted into Firecracker a soaring power house of a song. Straight away I was stuck by the strength and versatility of his voice, a bit like having Chapman and Vedder rolled into one. It turned out we weren’t going get the Dillon treatment (famed for not talking to his audience) and Dan introduced himself and gently rolled into The Diamond Land a hard hitting tale of a UN peace keeper in Sierra Leone. In vivid contrast, his next offering I Say I Love You a break up song with no hint of cliché grabbed hold of your heart and started pulling. This was a full forty minute set, normally far to long when you’re waiting to see someone like Glen Tilbrook but the quality did not let up and it felt shorter, with a heady mix of folk to a very dark indie sound in the Song Webster describes as angry tune. His website says, (www.danwebster.info) ‘discover the biggest little secret in modern folk’ I think its about time someone let this cat out of the bag.
Every now and then there's a song comes around that gets you just there (places fist against chest), "Frank Dalton" is just such a song. It's a story song that tells the true story of the night of the 9th-10th December 1951 when the Scarborough Lifeboat launched to rescue the crew of the Dutch cargo vessel M.V. Westkust in treacherous seas.
The entire crew of the M.V. Westkust were saved in frightening conditions. Three of the crew of the lifeboat, E.C.J.R., were awarded the R.N.L.I. Bronze Medal for the rescue, John Nicholas Sheader (Coxswain), Thomas Jenkinson Mainprize (Assistant Mechanic) and Frank Dalton (Bowman), unfortunately Frank's award was posthumous.
It's an immensely powerful song and one that really strikes a chord as I come from a seafaring family and the RNLI are headquartered just around the corner from where I live, but if the song strikes a chord with me, that doesn't comes close to describing its importance to Dan Webster, writer and performer of the song as Frank Dalton is Dan's great granddad.
Dan has decided to donate all the proceeds from the song to the RNLI, the third part of a fund raising effort he's put in for the charity having taken part in both the Great North Run and the Chester Marathon already this year.
The RNLI survive entirely on public donation, there's no government handouts for the organisation and I could easily say that's reason enough to buy the song, but it's not reason enough, if that was reason enough I would suggest putting the money in one of their charity boxes, but you should do that anyway.
No you should get "Frank Dalton" because it's a really strong song, it does what music is supposed to do and that's move you. That you will be helping the RNLI by doing so is a real bonus.
"Hailing from Scarborough and apparently born on a boat while mum was gathering lobster pots, Webster's part of the earnest singer-songwriter school and writes songs about how he's not a reliable relationship bet (Falling), the hidden agendas of war (Diamond Land, Superstore), romances broken or blossoming (Caroline, What Are We Doing Here?, Borrowed And Blue), war not being a good thing (Fishing), and looking back on unfulfilled lives (Playing Cards).
His reflective lyrics often sounding more like those of someone three times his age and featuring characters in their autumn years, he sings with conviction and passion. And even if he does sometimes overplay the soaring vocal drama, he has an engaging voice (not, at times, like an amalgam of Damien Rice and David Gray) and the overall result makes for an impressive debut."
"Offering a personal outlet for Webster due to the intimate details discussed, this is a sombre yet quality album. Born just a stones throw away from Scarborough shore, this twelve track album is full of personal insight that gives more than an inkling into what irks this artist into putting pen to paper and, at times, can be moving that leads the audience into an escapist world which many should visit now and then. With an intriguing picking style to begin its proceedings, Waiting in line starts slowly but then builds up to a pace which is worth waiting for. With a stonking electric guitar solo in its middle, this track is certainly one which will, or probably does, get the crowd going into a mass frenzy. With a start similar to the one already mentioned, the enticing Superstore is full to the brim of electric guitar goodness which doesn't fail in stopping the foot from tapping. Superstore allows Dan to truly demonstrate his singing talents to probable audience appreciation. It has a feeling and glow of being perfect to play at the end of the night as it preaches, in a good way, some strong social comment which might leave the audience pondering on a few points which they might have otherwise missed. The undisputable and irresistibly beautiful Caroline is one track in particular which, if the world would end tomorrow and all that was left was this song to act as evidence of human existence, would not be a bad thing whatsoever. It has harmonies and lead vocals to match even the most successful of groups or artists, which begs the question that why has this song not been played on the radio before? An artist who asks of utter concentration when hearing him ply his craft, this album is evidence of yet another soul singing the material which he is proud of doing so. Judging on the twelve songs here, they sure are a great way to spend an hour or, in a live setting, an evening."
"Folk Troubadour album - whimsical and gentle"
"Dan Webster's PR notes compare him to a rare lobster - trading on the story of him being born at sea as his mother emptied lobster pots and how somehow this makes him 'earnest and confused, talking of love, loss, politics, corruption and war'. Isn't this what every singer songwriter writes about?
Ignoring the guff of the PR, this album opens itself out as a strong set of songs driven by some impressive musical moods and a vocal delivery of some conviction. These sound like songs tried and tested on the road, they feel lived in and lived with.
The production and song writing is not earth-shatteringly original but that is not the objective here. It is a collection of songs that demand repeat listens and in that it follows the singer song writer template completely.
With repeated listens certain things stand out - the delicacy and emotion of 'Like You Do' and 'Borrowed and Blue', the anger and passion of 'What Are We Doing Here' and 'Like Hell'. The crack in the voice and the commercial possibilities of 'Waiting In Line' and the repressed rage of 'Superstore' with its politics on its sleeve.
Years ago this would be described as a bedsit album and that's no bad thing."
"Singer/songwriter Dan Webster is an insightful lyricist with a great voice, simultaneously youthful and mature, that I think I've fallen a little bit in love with. The opening track, 'Falling', is an immediate hook, and some of the more emotional aspects of the album meant that halfway through I needed a little lie down; it's been too long since an album did that to me. Diamond Land should be glued to your summer playlist."