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Jesse Dayton

Jesse Sings Kinky – 2012 (Stag)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jesse Dayton

Austin-based Jesse Dayton focuses on Kinky Friedman's more serious work in this tribute to the legendary singer/songwriter, mystery novelist and politician. On several tracks, Dayton gives an up-tempo treatment to somber tunes, such as Rapid City South Dakota, the story of a young man skipping town on his pregnant girlfriend ("There's a doctor in Chicago, I know she'll be all right/He told himself as he stared into the night"), and Nashville Casualty and Life, the tale of a struggling African American musician's life on the streets of Music City ("I could almost see him standing in the rain/His black and blinded face reflecting all the pain").

Similarly Sold American, which relates the fall from grace of a fading singing star ("Now they're fumbling through your wallet and they're trying to find your name/It's almost like they raised the price of fame"), is given a Waylon Jennings style shuffling arrangement.

Elsewhere Dayton is equally adept on ballads as in the sweetly sentimental Marilyn and Joe and the Tom Waits flavored rendition of Highway Cafe. Other highlights are Wild Man From Borneo, the story inspired by Friedman's days in the Peace Corps, and the Tex-Mex take on Twirl.

Though some Kinky fans may be disappointed that controversial favorites such as They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore and Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed are not included Dayton succeeds in his effort to shine a light on some of Kinky Friedman's under appreciated compositions.