50 min • Unitarian Church, Dublin • October 18, 2013
Daniel Woolhouse has been incessantly bombarded with the same question in interviews and his social media since the release of his debut album: “Why the name ‘Deptford Goth’?” The impetus of people’s curiosity about his moniker stems from the fact that the singer-songwriter is neither from Deptford, nor does he identify as ‘goth’. Previously, he has replied to say that he chose the name on the basis of liking the sound and image the two words conjured when placed together. When further pressed, Woolhouse pointed out that the ’90s soul-pop duo, Lighthouse Family, similarly did not live in a lighthouse, nor were they related.
Fast forward a few months since the release of his debut album Life After Defo and the question may still hang in the air. His first concert in Dublin takes places in its Unitarian Church; a 200 capacity church tidied away in the heart of the city centre. It seems the perfect space to grace the intimate sounds of the album, which explores one’s emotions when their certainties in life are taken away. It’s fair to say that Daniel’s stage presence is laid-back and gentle. He calmly sits at his keyboard, sporting a wooly hat, grown out hair and a plain black t-shirt. However, his casual appearance has an unintentional reverse effect, allowing him to appear more relatable by the fact he could have easily been mistaken for one of the audience members who walked in from the wet evening. Accompanied by a cellist, fellow artist Roshyn, the pair bring his introspective songs to life using keyboard, samples and the rich backing of cello.
Much like the record, the live arrangements are sparse and make use of quiet moments. Highlights of the set include ‘Feel Real’ in which the glacial keyboard samples rose and reached the rafters of the church. His album’s titular song ‘Life After Defo’ plays with its beat and vocal segments before taking off into its deeply melancholic sentiment. The record’s most extravagant moment, ‘Years’, is paired back of its production whilst maintaining the impact of its chorus line. Conversely, its most delicate moment, ‘Lions’, is given the added element of cello, which suspends the minimal song in an almost-hear-a-pin-drop moment halfway through the set. Lead single ‘Union’ keeps the form it holds on the album with its endearingly catchy verses and the swirling sounds of the chorus.
The concert is a perfect was to spend the blustery Autumn evening; the heartfelt pitch of the cello, Daniel’s tender vocals and the glistening electronics spreads a warmth amongst his audience. The understated and intimate environment of the church echoes the strength of his debut album; inviting listeners to solely focus on the music, and not just listen to the songs but feel them. Deptford Goth is an artist who has invested his being for his music and pays close attention to composition and emotional detail. His first venture in Dublin showcases an artist in development with a strong sense of melody and restraint, whilst hinting that his best material is yet to come.
For those still wondering about his name: Go see him live. It will all make sense. No more questions.