Over the past two years, acclaimed singer-songwriter Dan Whitehouse has been in a transparently reflective mood with three albums all themed around the physical and metaphorical nature of glass. On The Glass Age, produced by Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren and inspired by keeping in contact with his young son living in Japan, he explored how, in terms of communication, both positively and negatively, we have become a screen-fixated society exchanging virtual emotions with an emoji or a coded text, our smartphones as indispensable an appendage as an opposable thumb. As the song Campfire succinctly puts it, “When you change the way you look at things/ Watch the things you look at start to change”.
This was followed by Voices From The Cones, an album that approached glass through a different lens, an Arts Council funded radio ballads styled project commemorating the history and legacy of glassmaking in Stourbridge in the heart of the Midlands, the epicentre of the nation’s glassmaking industry for over 400 years. A social history song cycle, he drew on both interviews and oral archive material, both playful and poignant, from some 100 former glassworkers who had been the industry’s molten heart. Then came Reflections On The Glass Age, a mirror image of the electronic pulses of the first album refracted through acoustic reinterpretations, intimately sung and played to distil the sweet melancholia of the material.
Songs from these projects have now been gathered together for ‘A Night Of Glass’, a simple but hypnotic live experience in which, variously behind a piano or on guitar and joined on some dates by Ljunggren performing music from his own Floreana album, he takes audience deep into the heart of glass in its myriad manifestations, his expressively nuanced crystalline vocals, a hint of Bowie here, a touch of Cohen there, effortlessly mining a wealth of emotions and ideas. This is where the light gets in.
George Bernard Shaw said “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul” a testament to Dan’s intoxicating songwriting, consummate musicianship and quiet, unassuming charisma with songs like Rainbows Never End, Thin Blue Line, the anthemic New Love and the infectious, crowd-friendly Work, A Night Of Glass is the melting point where art transforms.