Recorded in San Diego, Birmingham, AL, and Toe Rag in London, Dan Sartain’s Join Dan Sartain, the follow-up to 2003’s Dan Sartain Vs. the Serpientes is a diverse but enduring effort. Dan has previously been the subject of many a Johnny Cash comparison. While there’s an obvious hat tipped to the Man in Black, it’s augmented with varied ingredients and thus surpasses cheap imitation.
The opening “Drama Queens” has a godlessness and Willem Defoe cackle that distinguishes the menace. “Hangers On” sounds both live from San Quentin and straight off the boat from the Westway. The fire could be Johnny, but the rant is pure Joe Strummer. “Gun Vs Knife” takes The Libertines’ Up the Bracket into mariachi territory. “Flight of the Finch” meanders in a fashion that could be likened to an Alex Cox spaghetti western. The Mariachi Real de San Diego contribute greatly to the ambience. “Replacement Man” fittingly subverts Twin Tone aesthetics in tequila haze. The closing “Love Is Black” nods out with Shadows-like evocation. It is truly beautiful.
Much of the album is considered in a manner that contextualises rather than numbs. “The World Is Gonna Break Your Little Heart” could make Brendan Benson melt. It seems a pretty simplistic and direct critique of twenties malaise to my ears, but it rings true. With “no choice left but to join with the masses,” I’m thankful there are songs like this to put the office exposure head drain into perspective. “Totem Pole” has somber, romantic frustration to the sum of a shoot out involving one person. Sartain has produced a perfect turn of year album. It switches between cinematic outlaw rhetoric with considered emotion, complete with instrumentation that takes the listener away from the January fall out.
The Libertines – Up the Bracket
Brendan Benson – Lapalco
The Clash – Combat Rock