US blues is undergoing something of a renaissance courtesy of the likes of the excellent Seasick Steve bringing us their own take of low-down traditional Americana. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band are definitely trying to capitalise on this movement with this lively foot stomping selection of blues and bluegrass tracks.
Where Seasick Steve ekes out a Kerouacian existence jumping onto boxcars, Rev Peyton seems happy sitting on the porch of a redneck shack somewhere eating mom’s home cooking. It’s easy to be snooty and dismiss this as “Deliverance: The Album”, but it’s a great deal of fun and has more going on than initially seems obvious.
The songs both complement and challenge the stereotypical redneck way of life; Opening stomper Can’t Pay The Bill is a comment on the flawed US healthcare system, the amusingly titled Your Cousin’s On Cops looks at trailer park lawlessness via the voyeurism of one of US TV’s highest rated shows. Even Walmart gets a real pasting for slowly killing off the world’s mom and pop local stores.
Elsewhere, the spectre of the Vietnam war looms, too many fried potatoes get eaten, too much whiskey is drank and everyone gets the DTs in the cold light of day.
The album doesn’t take itself too seriously and maintains the right degree of tongue-in-cheek to steer this clear of choppy novelty waters. Peyton’s vocals take a bit of getting used to as they come across as a little bellowy, but he does deliver the country/blues singer vibe well.
There are few subtle nuances here – this is balls to the wall music designed to get you dancing and drinking bottled beer. But beneath the bottleneck inspired jumping, it’s easy to miss just how good the musicians are and the playing on the album is damn near faultless. They do a great job of hiding the complexities of such energetic playing.
This is the music of boozy trucker’s bars, where the slide guitar punctuates the late night fog of smoke and bourbon fumes. As a live act they sounds as though they’d provide a whale of a time – it’s easy to imagine dancing to this well into the early hours. Despite that, a whole album might feel a little too niche for British ears, but allow it to grow on you and those smoky bars half a world away will seem much closer.