DAN WHITEHOUSE – Reflections On The Glass Age (own label WTK005)

Refections On The Glass AgeFollowing his ground-breaking album, Dan Whitehouse is now going on the road with Reflections On The Glass Age, a stripped down acoustic version of The Glass Age. Away from the electronica of the original, Dan sticks to acoustic guitar and is supported by Gustaf Ljunggren on piano and Billie Maree adding backing vocals on one track. The songs were written during lockdown in Japan and encompasses three themes. The first is Dan’s son, now resident in Japan, the second is the country itself, where it seems Dan would like to live but can’t remain permanently.

The opening track, ‘Campfire’, begins with a variation of the observer effect – “When you change the way you look at things/The things you look at start to change”. As a description of the effects of the pandemic it’s perfect because just about everything and everyone changed. The song references a way that Dan kept in touch with home, broadcasting songs at 5 am local time. It’s quite beautiful. Dominated by Gustaf’s piano, ‘The Glass Age’ is about the screens that are now the ubiquitous means of communication. Many people decry this but despite the song expressing a longing for a simpler time Dan reckons screens have a positive function.

‘The Tide’ is probably my favourite track, a simple but beautiful composition contrasting our on-line identities with our need for physical contact with Gustaf’s piano line in seeming conflict with Dan’s melody. Another product of lockdown. ‘Thin Blue Line’ is an odd song built on Dan’s basic acoustic guitar with Maree’s added vocals. It’s ostensibly about bodies in the Antarctic ice but, for Dan, it’s really a potent metaphor. ‘Remind Me’ is clearly another product of lockdown, reminding us not to sit around in our underpants eating cornflakes at 4 pm. He doesn’t use those words but that’s the underlying message.

‘Rainbows Never End’ is a simple love song for Dan’s son and ‘New Love’ is a complex song that emerged from a writer’s retreat, originally called ‘Home’ hence the refrain. The piano is powerful and dominant almost pushing Dan’s voice along. Although Reflections On The Glass Age is stripped back and acoustic it is too deep to be called minimal. Sometimes Dan’s guitar is barely discernible, playing one chord to a bar, at others it is full and rich. Similarly, the piano is sometimes gentle and melodic, sometimes almost strident.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.dan-whitehouse.com

Read Mike Davies’ review of The Glass Age here.

‘Thin Blue Line’ – live:

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