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Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh

Holdin' Our Own – 2007 (Stag)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh

Jesse Dayton has a resume packed to bursting with country cred. He's sessioned and/or toured with Waylon Jennings, The Supersuckers, Ray Price, Willie Nelson and Johnny Bush. Rob Zombie asked him to be the fictional hillbilly band Banjo and Sullivan in his gorefest, "The Devil's Rejects," and he opted out of a major label deal to start his own record label. Dayton is the real damn deal, and further declarative proof is all over his latest offering.

Dayton pays tribute to the great country duets that dominated the '60s, teaming with young-in-years-only singer/multi-instrumentalist Brennen Leigh to create an album that shivers with George-and-Tammy/Loretta-and-Conway intensity.

The greatest aspect is its authenticity and adherence to the country duet style (traditional musical structure, cheating-on-each-other/loving-each-other-more lyrics, heaven-and-hell harmonies), including "Brand New Heartache" and the Johnny Cash/June Carter classic "Long Legged Guitar Pickin' Man." From the Tex Mex rock of "Let's Run Away" and the Bakersfield honky tonk of Bobby Braddock's "Something to Brag About" to the countrypolitan sheen of "Two Step Program" and the classic countrygrass lilt of the title track, Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh have concocted an amazing homage to what country used to be and a fascinating glimpse at what it could be again.