Dan Sartain: Lives

B+

Dan Sartain

Album: Lives
Label: One Little Indian

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Though Alabama-based roots rocker Dan Sartain has been tied to the neo-garage scene, he’s closer in spirit to that small subset of rootsy singer-songwriters who like their Americana on the spooky side. Sartain’s latest album, Lives, sounds like the soundtrack to some gamy early-’60s drive-in horror movie, complete with cheesy organ, dance-party tom-toms, and guitars that alternate between high and tinny and low and twangy, like a mutated insect facing a cannonade. Sartain’s songs are mainly about people who are out of step with modern life, and unlucky at love—subjects that suit his style. Lives features jittery dispatches from the scene of atheist funerals and bohemian hangouts, and it expresses a point of view best summed up by the titles of the songs “I Don’t Wanna Go To The Party” and “Bad Things Will Happen.” This kind of creep-rock is hardly original; it’s part of a tradition that threads from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to The Cramps and beyond. But Sartain adds his own personality: desperate, nervous, and drawn to danger.

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