If I was blindfolded and led into a mysterious room by gunmen who for some reason played me this album and asked me to guess the year of recording at gunpoint, I wouldn't have guessed it was 2010. The twangy rock n’ roll album ‘Lives’ by Dan Sartain is like a previously unreleased Elvis Costello record. Recorded in the Toe Rag analogue studio, Sartain creates a retro sound heavy on reverb and heavier on pencil moustaches. The lovechild of Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, he produces 13 short ditties in tribute to the style never exceeding 3 minutes long. Sartain is clearly dedicated to living the life of a rockabilly, with a thin moustache, comb slicked hair and big frame glasses; all that’s missing is The Fonz.
Dan Sartain’s style is far from new and his urge to imitate a 50s musician is a tad pretentious, but at least it’s a different and more productive kind of pretentious than the tea-drinking indie hipsters that have declared mutiny on the underground indie scene.
The imagery conjured on listening to ‘Lives’ is a 50s diner band to which Kenickie lookalikes and their respective dates do the shuffle dance to.
Dan Sartain is a versatile musician and a talented one. As a big Elvis Costello listener I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the music from Costello's rock n' roll days, but the lack of British charm doesn't do Sartain's vocals any favours. There is also an undeniable Greenhornes sound in parts of this album, particularly ‘Ruby Carol’ and ‘Bad Things Will Happen’. Holly Golightly who has also loaned her vocals talents to The Greenhornes makes a nice cameo in ‘What You Gonna Do?’
This is an entertaining album; vivacious music and urgent, energetic vocals. However I don't think his live performances will be drowned out by the loud screaming of young girls.
Dan Sartain - Lives is released on 31st May