Dan Haywood: Country Dustbin (TakuRoku Records)

Singer-songwriter pushes the form to its limits with discursive lyrical epic

Released Oct 1st, 2021 via TakuRoku Records / By Ben Wood
Dan Haywood: Country Dustbin (TakuRoku Records) There are ballsy artistic moves and then there's this. In an age of shortened attention spans, singer-songwriter Dan Haywood has made a 50-minutes-plus album comprised of one single track. Can any modern troubadour justify creating a song four times longer than Dylan's magisterial Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, for instance?

In a word, no. Only some seriously impressive versifying could justify this steroidal length. Even Wordsworth and Coleridge could have done with some editing - and the lyrics to this impressionistic million-verse mega-ramble make less sense the closer you examine them. But they are buoyed up, and somewhat redeemed, by a bluesy, subtly mutating bass, drums, guitar and organ groove.

Haywood's narrator spots a girl he fancies in the supermarket wine aisle (probably) and embarks on a prolonged stalking campaign by bus (maybe). This is the jumping-off point for a fusilade of impressonistic observations, rants and random encounters...like Joyce's Ulysses with Speke and Rockferry standing in for Dublin.

It's like the world's longest talking blues, with Haywood's lyrical phrasing rather more effective than his somewhat adenoidal vocal tone. Certain phrases recur ("Sweeter than honey / 'Stronger than a lion" and "Highly sociable / and drunk on many ways"). But don't try and follow the plot.

What is theoretically a picaresque epic soon becomes impossible to follow ("Is it night-time? / I thought he'd just got up?"). Chronology is scrambled...or maybe that's the result of our narrator's steady diet of wine, vodka, a pill 'made especially for me' and Gd knows what else.

A ten-minute version of this idea would pack a bigger punch, and make more sense. But as Victorian poet Robert Browning said: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp / Or what's a heaven for?'" 3/5