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Jesse Dayton

The Revealer – 2016 (Blue Elan)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jesse Dayton

With "The Revealer," Austin-based singer/songwriter Jesse Dayton displays his passion for classic country, roots rock and blues. The country influence is best demonstrated on "Possum Ran Over My Grave" in which he reminisces about being first disappointed by his idol ("I remember the night that he didn't show/So we shoved his old 8-track in our truck radio") before ultimately being inspired by George Jones ("Couple years later he came back through town/Man that's the night No-Show mowed us all down").

Dayton proves adept at clever country wordplay on the sentimental duet with Brennen Leigh "Match Made In Heaven" ("Oh a match made in Heaven/Started a fire as hot as hell"), as well as the raucously comical "I'm at Home Gettin' Hammered (While She's Out Gettin' Nailed)" (the song was first on Dayton's - aka Banjo & Sullivan - "The Devil's Rejects" soundtrack in 2005). Elsewhere "The Way We Are" and "Never Started Living" recall Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard respectively.

Dayton rocks out nicely on "Holy Ghost Rock N Roller," which begins with the 1950s recording of Jimmie Snow's anti-rock and roll tirade before transitioning to a Jerry Lee Lewis flavored rocker that seems to take the opposite stance ("Preachers all keep praying for me/But the Devil's music's gonna set me free"). Dayton reveals his guitar prowess on "3 Pecker Goat" (co-written with Hayes Carll) and "Take Out the Trash."

Other highlights are the bluesy ballad "Mrs. Victoria (Beautiful Thing)," a poignant reflection on the impact a childhood caretaker had on a young boy ("That black old lady was my best friend/And made me who I am today"), and the closing "Big State Motel" featuring Dayton's strongest, most soulful vocals.

Produced by John Evans (bass, percussion) the musicianship is stellar throughout fueled by Dayton's hot guitar licks augmented by Riley Osborne (piano, organ) and Beth Chrisman (fiddle). With solid performances and strong compositions "The Revealer" is a fun and compelling listen.