Country Dustbin (Bandcamp)
Released: October 1st, 2021
Acclaimed singer/songwriter releases album…with one song on it.
Back in June of this year, Dan Haywood gave LTW an in depth interview and revealed that his next release would be Country Dustbin, a one song album. Albeit that one song will be 52 minutes, 52 seconds long. Haywood has always pushed the creative envelope as far as possible. He doesn’t want to repeat himself. He wants to experiment. Which makes him one of the most interesting songwriters we have in this country at the moment. And he believes in the album as the highest art form; by writing a 52 minute song, it forces the listener to sit down and listen to a whole album.
But does it work on any level other than an interesting experiment?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Country Dustbin is a hypnotic, mesmerising piece of work that draws you into its world, creating an experience completely different to listening to a standard 3:30 song. It’s a musical, lyrical trip through Haywood’s memories and insights, full of riddles and clues. One of the refrains is ‘sweeter than honey, stronger than a lion’, which is a Biblical riddle from Sansom, and hints that a deeper understanding can be found within the song. The lyrics are intricately woven, whilst at times sounding almost stream of consciousness. In many ways Haywood is out Dylaning Dylan – considering that Country Dustbin was recorded back in 2019 before Dylan had released his, short in comparison, Murder Most Foul.
There is a personal reflection mixed up with surrealistic imagery, wild changes of point of view and seemingly unconnected lyrics. It has a plethora of beguiling characters (the accompanying book provides a handy dramatis personae) that creates a lyrical journey that holds up in its own when read as poetry. With repeated listening it rewards with an internal consistency, a down the rabbit hole journey through one man’s mind and memory, backed up by a band on top form who follow the cues and add flourishes throughout.
The band took cues from a projection on the studio wall, playing it live, and nailing it in two takes. Musically it’s a smooth seventies groove with sixties psychedelic tones. The fuzz bass is deep and rumbling and the drums hold down the beat impeccably. The keyboards are bubbling, like the Doors, and the guitars have more than a hint of Velvet Underground. There are short musical breaks that highlight the skill of the musicians, and the perseverance!
You have to give yourself up to the experience, to make an effort as a listener to meet the musicians halfway on this psychedelic trip. It’s an immersive, dazzling experience that really makes you feel you’ve been on a journey when the song fades out at 52:52.