More People Really Should Know About: Dan Webster

Dan Webster has been playing live music since he was fifteen. His first album ‘The Other Side of Brightness’ was released in 2003. Webster is still making fine music today. He has a loyal fan base, and live, is engaging, and likeable, with stories that are funny and many of which most artists will relate to. Just ask him about playing Howden or the night he was all set to play iconic music venue ‘Fibbers’ in York.

More people need to know about Dan Webster. Originally Webster set off down the folk route but he admits that listening to his early albums they are almost pure americana. With his good friend and fellow musician Richard Hardcastle, he is a seasoned radio presenter on Jorvik radio, a recording engineer, mix engineer, and producer with his own studio.

He admits that it is all the other ‘side’ projects that lead to such gaps in his recorded musical output. Catching up with him recently he said that his work drops to the bottom of the pile if others are using the studio or require his services. This does not stop Webster from performing live, showcasing songs old and new. Like many artists during the pandemic, Webster used regular online concerts to reach his fans. Playing new material to gauge public opinion and other songs by his favourite artists. His version of Sturgill Simpson’s ‘You Can Have The Crown’ sits comfortably alongside a beautiful version of the Richard Thompson classic ‘Beeswing.’

There was a gap of five years after his first release before Webster returned with the critically acclaimed ‘Diamond Land.’ This enjoyed airplay on Radio 2 and contained live favourites such as ‘Caroline’ and ‘Superstore’. Lyrically Webster pulls at every heartstring you have and more. The song ‘Borrowed and Blue’ includes the heartbreaking lines “You say too far is a train ride away, too far is a train ride away, I’d cross oceans, mountains and plains.”

The album ‘The Tin Man’ released and self-produced in 2015 takes this melancholy even deeper at times. For this Webster brought in cello player Rachel Brown. Her sombre yet exquisite playing takes this exceptional set of songs to another level. The track ‘Goodbye’ is a lament to losing someone and opens with the verse “Some will ask for their mothers, The lucky ask for a child, some are looking for forgiveness, some a chance to say goodbye.”

It is not all sadness, ‘Elvis’ is a great track extolling the trials of a touring musician constantly being asked to play Elvis. There is a live studio version on ‘The Sea and Other Things’ ep that brilliantly segues into ‘Suspicious Minds.’ “One to Remember” makes you think of ‘Billy Joel’ and ‘Piano Man.’ The sentiments are remarkably similar. The album concludes with the rocker ‘Gin.’ A song Webster would love to bring back into his live set but feels it needs a complete band to do it justice.

The final full album release by Webster is the well-received ‘Devil Sky.’ Featuring a full band with Liam ‘Yom’ Hardy of ‘Blackbeard’s Tea Party’ fame on drums, Emily Lawler on violin, and Polly Bolton on mandolin. This truly is americana at its finest with roots set firmly over the pond. The song ‘Bo’ could easily fit in the ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’ soundtrack album. There is political comment in ‘Freedom in Suburbia‘ and still those mournful ballads that Webster is so good at. ‘Haul Away’ and ‘Nothing at All’ at almost Ryan Adams levels of pitifully sad.

AUK gave ‘Devil Sky’ an 8/10 rating saying: “Lyrically the songs are personal. There are family links, relationship stories, and snapshots of American-influenced life. ‘Joe’ strays into darker territory to great effect and stands out well. A touch of politics is present in ‘Freedom in Suburbia’ which could be developed further, but overall, the words do draw you in. This is a clean and atmospheric record that fits seamlessly into the Americana genre.”

There are a couple of excellent albums that are no longer available, unless Webster has a few of them stashed away in the loft. ‘Solo in Lockdown’ is a beautifully packaged collection of favourites played, as the title suggests solo. Then there is “Further Afield” a collection of songs recorded live in the studio with vocalist and violinist ‘Emily Lawler.’ This includes several new songs that will potentially show up on Webster’s next album. Hopefully, we will not have to wait too long but, in the meantime, there is plenty of back catalogue and live shows to attend.

About Andy Short 7 Articles
You would think with all the music I listen to I would be able to write a song but lyrically I get nowhere near some of the lines I've listened too. Maybe one day but until then I will keep on listening.
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