Dan Stuart

Can O' Worms

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Considering that Dan Stuart's well-respected, if under the radar, Americana band Green on Red was relatively prolific in their '80s heyday, his subsequent solo career has oddly been nearly nonexistent. Besides a few Danny & Dusty releases (separated by a gap of 22 years) and this album that closely followed GOR's dissolution, there hasn't been anything else. That's too bad because based on this performance, Stuart could have rivaled Chuck Prophet, his far more successful songwriting comrade in Green on Red. These songs aren't that far removed from what he was up to in that band, although he is more relaxed, wiry, and low-key here. Occasionally he sounds a bit mopey and distanced, but that's not a bad thing since the lyrics express similar sentiments of disillusionment. His characters have generally been "stranded for too long, washed up on the shore" as he relates in "Expat. Blues," one of the disc's most powerful performances due in large part to J.D. Foster's nearly avant-garde guitar solos that knife their way through the track along with his overdubbed, sparse sax. Stuart visits Tom Waits territory for the grungy, greasy "Filipina Stripper," filled with poetic, other-side-of-the-track images and driven by Jon Dee Graham's mucky, snarky guitar. Everything seems a little dirty and ruffled up like a bed that hasn't been made in a month. Even ballads such as "Waterfall" and "What a Day" feel stranded and dislocated, similar to the struggling people that populate Stuart's songs. We go south of the border for a rather ragged acoustic Mexacali approach on "La Pasionaria," a tale of revenge apparently sung by a dying man. While the sound is dark throughout, it's not depressing, and the album resonates in a grimy groove that gets under your skin in a good way. Why there was never a follow-up is a mystery, but Can O' Worms is well worth searching out, especially for fans of Green on Red.

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