Dan Sartain Dan Sartain vs The Serpientes Album Review
Dan Sartain vs The Serpientes
23 year old Deep South troubadour Dan Sartain has been tearing rock 'n' roll a new soundhole over the past year, and this incredible record will ensure that he will go from strength to strength.
Dan Sartain vs The Serpientes is a record largely made up of rudimentary proto rock that flirts with rockabilly, punk and even reggae, it sometimes hits, sometimes misses, but is never anything less than compelling. "Walk Among the Cobras Pt I" is a barbed wire sharp piece of Johnny Cash country rock, complete with a bone rattling Luther Perkins style riff. Elsewhere, "I Could Have You" takes its sweet time winning you over with its combination of kitschy handclaps and a strange reinterpretation of "Besame Mucho" by The Beatles. Sartain is clearly a man with a head full of wisdom and classic rock.
Other highlights include the hymn-like "Place to Call My Home" and the haunting "Auto Pilot" with its wobbly keyboard and marimba lines, but the pinnacle of this impressive collection has to be the astonishing "Romance." Opening with discordant noise, it eventually evens out into a stoned twelve bar blues, the time tested, and sometimes tired musical convention slowed right down to dangerous levels, the pulse barely there, it sounds fresh and menacing. Echoes of far-off noises pulsate through the mix seemingly randomly, interweaving with Sartain's distorted vocals. This is the blues as you've never heard it before.
It's not perfect though, the scratchy garage punk of "P.C.B.98" just about fails to hit the mark, and the pseudo reggae of "Cobras Pt III" falls flat, but these two tracks, while relative failures, are spectacular failures at least, are could not be accused of being dull, they are just adequate in a sea of excellence.
The lo-fi production values will probably have their criticisms, the album sounding like it cost about 25p to record, but you won't hear any from me. The scratchy aesthetic of the album is a huge part of its rusty charm, any ProTools or studio trickery would strip away Sartain's dirty authenticity which he carefully crafts in his lyrics.
The scratchy aesthetic of the album is a huge part of its rusty charm, any ProTools or studio trickery would strip away Sartain's dirty authenticity
which he carefully crafts in his lyrics.
Like Mr Cash before him, Sartain is natural story-teller, crafting dark Southern tales that often border on the just plain scary. "Cobras Pt II" is particularly terrifying, an abrasive piece of call and response rockabilly with Sartain's idiosyncratic yelping that partially disguises some disturbing lyrics, "I'll figure out a way to hang you by your neck" being one of the more nasty sentiments. That said, Sartain seems to be a man with wisdom beyond his years, so if you've been stuck for good honest country-rock since the Man In Black headed for the Grand Old Opry in the sky, look no further than this captivating record.
wisdom beyond his years, so if you've been stuck for good honest country-rock since the Man In Black headed for the Grand Old Opry in the sky, look no further than this captivating record.