Ex-Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic bandleader Dan Wilson’s new solo album “Love Without Fear” features lissome numbers like “Disappearing,” “However Long” and the title track, as well as cameos from pals Blake Mills, Sara Bareilles, Missy Higgins and former Dixie Chick Natalie Maines. Its booklet boasts intricate calligraphy, and the deluxe edition has an illustrated booklet hand-sketched by Wilson, a self-taught cartoonist and visual-arts major at Harvard. After winning a Grammy for his work with Adele, he also happens to be every songwriter’s go-to collaborator these days.
Why return to your art this year? Well, last year, I had started to draw cartoons about the songwriter’s life, just how it’s done. And I felt like I’d lost track of my drawing. I’d gone for maybe two years without making a picture in my journal, and I just wanted to get my edge back. But then I got really excited about it and then I started thinking “How could I integrate this into my music life somehow?” And I happened upon the idea of making a deluxe version of the album.
Did you work with Adele again on her upcoming third album? Umm … I’m not supposed to say. I can’t even tell you whether I’ve been sworn to secrecy! So don’t assume anything!
What new collaborations can you talk about? I just finished a lot of intense work with Birdy for that movie “The Fault In Our Stars,” which is the most tearjerking of tearjerkers. The trailer made me cry even before I saw the movie. And Birdy is amazing — I love her. There’s a song called “Best Shot,” one called “T-shirt” and then we did a couple for her album, like “All You Never Say.”
But Birdy is only 18. She couldn’t have experienced that much heartbreak yet, right? Let me put it this way. When I was 11, I could listen to a song like “Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkins, and just wind up crying and crying. And the song is very sentimental, but this was even before I had a life — I was already able to cry at a nostalgic song. So I think people have within them a whole repertoire of emotions, even if they haven’t lived the things you can talk about in a song.
Any other assignments? I have a couple of things that I think Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, is going to cut. And I just finished two songs — one of which is a real monster — with Tom Odell. But mainly, I spent January working on the deluxe version of my album.
IF YOU GO
Dan Wilson, Joe Henry
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Friday