After several years of personal hell, Dan Stuart is finally back. His old band, legendary Green On Red, disbanded in 1992, and Dan tried to continue solo. After a record with Al Perry in 1993 and the first solo album in 1995, Dan disappeared from the music business.
There were many different stories and legends on what he was going through in those years, but it wasn’t until ten years later that we heard of Dan again. He first regrouped with Green On Red to play a few shows in Europe and USA (a live DVD came out of that), and then put out a record with Steve Wynn (a studio and live sequels to their legendary Danny And Dusty project) and one with the producer JD Foster (in an ad-hoc band called The Slummers). Now, Mr. Stuart is back with a masterpiece – new LP called The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings.
Apparently, Marlowe Billings is Dan’s alter ego, which he uses sometimes in his new home in Mexico. I read in Uncut that he has found new energy over there after living in New York and separating from his wife. These stories should be taken with a grain of salt, since Dan posted on his facebook that some of the claims were false in that article.
We can read poetical interpretations of this story in the lyrics of the new record, though. Dan is singing “I miss the city and I miss the lights, I miss my family all over the night. But New York’s a liar, we both know it’s true, just like your lover whose soul understands you. I’ll never go back to that cold hard ground, where everyone’s searching for what can’t be found”.
These words can be found in the opening song of the new record and they are certainly dark, but the mood of the record overall is far from being disconsolate. This is the main difference between Dan’s old record Can O’ Worms from 1995 and this one today. While Can O’ Worms is a deep dark record of a man loosing a grip of his own fate, Deliverance is a record of a man who’s back in control. By realizing that he was looking for what can’t be found, Dan liberated his soul and now, on the new record we can also find lighthearted tunes such as Gap-toothed Girl or Gonna Change – a beautiful Brill-Building sunshine pop with disarming oo-la-lah’s .
Another record that calls for comparisons is also Love’s Been Discontinued by Dan’s old band-mate Chris Cacavas, which came out in 2009 and which I pronounced the album of the year in the Little Lighthouse year end list of that season. I still don’t know what was going on in Cacavas’ private life at the time, but if I trust the lyrics, its a very honest record of a man who has recently went through a break up. One thing that is common to Cacavas’ Love’s Been Discontinued and Dan’s Deliverance can be summed up in Dan’s words: “yes, love will kill you, so why pretend”. Turn it into some really cool art and see what happens. “You can never steal this poet’s soul.” This brings me to a film I like, called Singles back in 1992. There’s a mime over there who can’t shut up and says: “love disappears, baby”.
I must also add at the end that the musicianship on this record is truly exceptional. The band backing up ol’ Dan is the Italian group Sacri Cuori and the sound is thick and full. Surely, a part of the credit for this great sounding record also must go to JD Foster. Foster and Antonio Gramentieri from Sacri Couri were also with Dan in The Slummers. It looks like the new record leaves Dan in a very healthy place and I have a feeling we can expect more great stuff from Dan and the boys in the near future. Right now, you can enjoy this disc and also see Dan Stuart who is touring Europe currently.
First published on rockxs.com.