Jesse Dayton

Country Soul Brother

It's been decades since Chuck Berry merged country and blues pickin' to write the book on rock 'n' roll guitar, and while white Nashville and black Memphis are in the same state, sharing the same cultural roots, you'd never know it unless you're a roots-music fanatic. Jesse Dayton may not be a musicologist, but it's clear from his style -- a blend of rock, R&B and hard country, heavily weighted toward the country side of the equation -- that the boy's done his homework. Dayton has a prickly masculine growl (think the young Merle Haggard), a backing band that breathes fire, and songwriting chops to spare. Every tune here sounds like a hit, including the Marty Robbins yodeling Tex-Mex groove of "Moravia," the honky-tonk gospel of "Jesus Pick Me Up," Dayton's Texas swing reinvention of The Cars' "Just What I Needed," and the shimmering soul of "It Won't Always Be Like This."

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