Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton DEATH WISH BLUES

Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton
Death Wish Blues
Rounder Records

A Whip Sharp Deadly Duo Push The Boundaries of Blues Rock and Alt. Country Flavoured Rock Music.

It’s been a fun ride from this odd coupling to get this far; with Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton releasing singles and an EP a’plenty over the last year or so teasing us on the route towards this final Album release.
Some of those songs; but not all as there are quite a few brand new tracks here that sound like the deadly duo are not just challenging each other but the listener to.
If you are reading this review I presume you don’t need me to delve into the couple’s diverse backgrounds but mutual admiration do I?
The music! Let’s talk about the music!
Opening track Deathwish comes at you like a sleazy lothario on a Friday night in a bar on the wrong side of town, just before closing time. The bass line is incredibly ‘heavy’ and the guitar interplay errs on that side too; but Dayton’s riffs are straight outta Boone County as Samantha takes her own distinctive vocals into an arena I’d never have expected from her.
As the album title alludes to; these songs are predominantly Bluesy in creation and dark too; but there’s so much more going on in the shadows; starting with Track #2 Down In the Mud when Jesse takes over the lead vocals on a song that will hit you like a punch to the gut.
Because the couple are coming at these songs from opposite ends of the music spectrum; even if you’d heard the previous EP’s you still wouldn’t expect to hear arrangements and songs like the salacious No Apology or the Funkalicious Supadupabad which starts where Sly Stone and James left off; or may even have been too afraid to attempt!
With that in mind, legacy Fish and Dayton fans really have to have an open-mind when playing this album; as there’s very little hear that could fit into either performer’s own albums; but surely that’s the point? Samantha and Jesse sound like they are having an absolute blast here; trading off each other guitar wise and lyrically too …… the ‘breakup song’ Trauma is a perfect example with the couple singing ‘at’ each other like a pumped up Sonny & Cher; which is a sentence I never expected to type!
I’ve ‘liked’ both Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton for quite a few years; and regardless of the Awards both; and especially Samantha has/have won along the way there are so many surprises on this album that I’ve had to list six songs as contenders for ‘Favourite Song’ status … and that’s a first.
The current single, Riders finds Jesse and Samantha extolling the delights of various cities on their touring agenda but treating each as a lover of the one night stand variety, then moving on to the next with barely a look over the shoulder; and boy oh boy is the guitar playing bordering on the indecent!
Which reminds me; DEATH WISH BLUES could easily be described as a ‘guitar album’; it most certainly is in every which way; but that’s doing a discredit to the songwriting and singing here; which all gives you plenty of fun discovering new delights every time you play Dangerous People and/or the pugnacious Flooded Love.
Then you have Settle For Less, which in other less vanity driven hands would easily be guitar wig-outs; but here courtesy of Jon Spencer’s tight and often claustrophobic production actually highlight and showcase the thoughtful and erudite songwriting … and singing too.
With appointing a ‘Favourite Track’ on my mind; I’ve had to dig deep to choose between the beautiful; and enthralling ballad You Know My Heart which closes the album; and finds Samantha channelling her inner Aretha to Jesse Dayton’s Stevie as the song smoulders until finally catching fire during the last verse.
When it comes to ‘surprises’ Rippin’ and Runnin’ has them from the cool acoustic slide intro through to the crude and lewd finale; which is why it just shades the Grand Title of Favourite Track by a single point.
There’s a feeling of fun and mutual respect all through Death Wish Blues, with Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton allowing each other the room to swagger and strut without ever adding even a note too many that could detract from the other one’s lead; be that singing or playing guitar.
While the album and the songs themselves deserve a huge audience; they will actually be best heard when you are all alone, be that in the car or your own home; and played live …. it’s got to be a sold-out sweaty club at the height of Summer when you can hardly breathe as Jesse and Samantha give it 101% on stage for your mutual pleasure.

PS I’m going to see then in wonderful and acoustically perfect theatre later in the year!

Released 19th May 2023


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