Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: “Front Porch Sessions” (2017) CD Review

In these dark times, we turn to our holy men for guidance, for answers. And Reverend Peyton delivers the good word, and this time does it not from on high, but from the front porch. Perhaps his porch, perhaps yours. Yes, his new album, Front Porch Sessions, as its title promises, has the feel of happening spontaneously on a porch. But a porch pumped full of energy – electrical, spiritual, comforting, dangerous and delightful, an energy that will draw you to the place just as surely as you need air and water. Come on home, and sing along, or stomp your feet on the deck. The Reverend is calling all his children to him.

The new sermon begins with “We Deserve A Happy Ending,” and do we ever need one. Because the news coming in is all absurd and awful, and the humor is being drained from it as it drags on. “Even when we’re losing, it feels like we are winning/We deserve a happy ending.” This tune, like approximately half the tracks, is an original, written by Reverend Peyton. It’s followed by an excellent, passionate cover of “When My Baby Left Me,” written by Furry Lewis. Ah, Reverend Peyton belts out the blues like a shout for help. Then snap your fingers to “Shakey Shirley.” “Shirley shake, Shirley shake all the time.”

Some delicious guitar work begins “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right,” which, yes, is one of my favorite song titles so far this year. The message to the song is simple, “I got something to say/I don’t want to fight/But what you did to the boy ain’t right,” but the guitar seems to have a whole lot more to say, and speaks eloquently and forcefully. And then in “One Bad Shoe,” Reverend Peyton sings, “It feels like I’m spinning/Out of control/Head’s got the shakes/I need some brakes.” But the tune has such a steady, controlled rhythm that I don’t think he’s going to be able to save himself. It’s like something else is at the wheel, and one’s doom is determined by whatever that is, perhaps was determined long ago, before the song was started, before the car was started, and all you can do is sing about it as you go. It’s a feeling I believe a lot of us are in touch with.

“It’s All Night Long” is a wild, loose instrumental number. That’s followed by “One More Thing,” an oddly happy-sounding folk song about being at the edge of disaster. Hey, that’s something we can all relate to these days, eh? “If the septic goes bad/If the transmission goes out/Just one more thing and we lose our house/One more thing/And we lose everything.” Ah, maybe it’s being resigned when every damn thing is out of our control, and we watch disaster rolling our way. Which one more thing is it going to be? That sometimes seems to be the question. Fucking hell. But what a great song, one of my favorites. And it’s followed by the album’s other instrumental tune, “Flying Squirrels,” a cool guitar tune, like taking a traditional folk tune, adding electricity and making those spirits dance until they’re exhausted. Ah, they’ll be up all night, just you watch. And if you stop watching, if you turn your back, they’ll be at your icebox, they’ll be poking through your drawers, even as they continue the dance.

Reverend Peyton’s rendition of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” here titled simply “Let Your Light Shine,” has a sort of “Amazing Grace” vibe at the start, during the instrumental intro. This is a perfect song for Reverend Peyton to cover, for it has a religious feel to it, but is also kind of quirky. After all, it’s a different sort of light that comes shining, isn’t it? “Let your light from the lighthouse shine on me.”  And, man, I can feel that thump in my chest. This is a really good version. The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band then ends the album with a couple of traditional tunes, “When You Lose Your Money” and “Cornbread And Butterbeans.” “When You Lose Your Money” is also known as “Billy Lyons And Stack O’Lee”  (Furry Lewis did it under that title) and “Stackalee” (Dave Van Ronk recorded it under this title), as well as other variations. It’s a story that everyone who listens to music knows pretty well (the Grateful Dead recorded their own version as “Stagger Lee”), and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band does a very good job with it. “When you lose your money, learn to lose.” And then, oh man, has there ever been a cooler rendition of “Cornbread And Butterbeans”? “Cornbread and butterbeans and you across the table/Eatin’ beans and makin’ love as long as I am able.” Perfect.

CD Track List
  1. We Deserve A Happy Ending
  2. When My Baby Left Me
  3. Shakey Shirley
  4. What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right
  5. One Bad Shoe
  6. It’s All Night Long
  7. One More Thing
  8. Flying Squirrels
  9. Let Your Light Shine
  10. When You Lose Your Money
  11. Cornbread And Butterbeans 
Front Porch Sessions is scheduled to be released on March 10, 2017 through Thirty Tigers and Family Owned Records.

1 comment:

  1. Love rev peyton big damn band. Enjoyed your review cant wait to get my cd