Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton: Death Wish Blues: Album Out May 19 On Rounder Records

Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton: Death Wish Blues: Album Out May 19 On Rounder Records

About Samantha

Samantha Fish returns with a new album but this time she has brought along a friend and fellow musician Jesse Dayton. Now folks that are regular readers of this site will be well aware of the wonder that is Samantha Fish as we have reviewed albums and live performances by the lady.

To those who don’t know about her, here is a little recap. Samantha is known firstly as an award-winning blues guitarist-singer who has branched into soul and funk and on every release tries new things (hell, on her last album Faster she even had rapper Tech N9ne on a song). Samantha who hails from Kansas City Missouri has 7 solo albums out (plus one which is her and 2 other female performers).

Learning About Jesse

Now I confess I didn’t know Jesse Dayton until I heard of him working with Samantha on the EP released last year called The Stardust Sessions. However, on checking him out he has some pedigree. He is an actor and musician from Texas who has played with, and for, folks like Johnny CashWaylon JenningsWillie Nelson along with Rob Zombie (they collaborated on soundtracks) and he has toured the US and Europe with The Supersuckers.

That is quite the list! He has from what I can tell 14 or 15 studio albums out dating from 1995. He is seen probably more in country and alternative so has different skill sets from Samantha. Bringing out the best of both of them is the producer of Death Wish Blues is Jon Spencer of The Blues Explosion.

All The Players

There are 12 songs in all and the album runs for around 37 or 38 minutes. The whole thing was recorded in 10 days in a studio with many of the songs recorded as live. Not a minute appears to have been wasted. The mix on the whole is blues, country and rock (and rockabilly) with funk and even punk (certainly in attitude at times), and most of the songs would fit easily on a Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack or in places The Blues Brothers!

The fun level is very high indeed with both leads sounding like they are having an absolute blast. They are certainly helped by a strong supporting cast of players in bassist Kendall Wind, keyboardist Mickey Finn and drummer Aaron Johnston. Most of the songs are upbeat with a couple that are ballads or at least softer more reflective. The vocals are shared between guitarists with both swapping leads and harmonies and on a couple of songs trading lyric lines.

Samantha & Jesse: New Album Together: Death Wish Blues (photo by Daniel Sanda)

Samantha & Jesse: New Album Together: Death Wish Blues (photo by Daniel Sanda)

Hard Rocking To Stevie Wonder

The album opens with the first single and video for the album “Death Wish” which rocks along with great groove and pacing. The way they drop everything at points adds to the fun of the song and in a way makes it seem even faster-paced at points. The song is based around a melody that Samantha had and Jesse wrote lyrics based on the crime documentaries he had been watching on his down time, where women are taken advantage of. Samantha put her own spin on them as she throws in a ton of attitude!

Following that is one of 2 songs that made me think of Stevie Wonder. “Down In The Mud” has an air of menace yet again is a huge amount of fun with Jesse playing around vocally using pauses in phrases or elongating words to give you a feel of the lyrics. The bass on this is to the fore. Like many songs, the backing vocals and harmonies enhance everything about the song. Within a couple of songs you can hear how well they feed off and compliment each other.

Riders” also made me think of Stevie. It is so funky and each of them sings a verse or two. This is a song about “one night stands”, but not people! It is all about being on the road and how each town or city is a one-nighter and what each place named gives and receives in that moment of pleasure. For instance, after Jesse sings “and in the morning I’ll be gone“, Samantha follows up with “please don’t take it personal, it’s not that you done wrong“. Terrific on-the-road song, catchy, humourous, great vocals and a clever build-up near the end till it switches to gentle for the fade. Great song.

Samantha & Jesse Looking Cool In Black! (Photo By Kaelan Barowsky)

Samantha & Jesse Looking Cool In Black! (Photo By Kaelan Barowsky)

Twisted Love Songs

Settle For Less” is one of my personal favourites here. The song basically is saying that if you settle for someone perhaps on the basis of need then in the end you end up with “what you deserve“. I love the effect of a ticking clock through it. Time will catch up as will the hurt and unhappiness. The main riff is tasty as is the solo! Samantha tells the story so well.

Trauma” has Jesse on lead. The track is quite laid back funky blues until the very Led Zep riff and solo half way through (Samantha‘s laugh at the end of that is quite brilliant and evil sounding). The latter part of the song where he sings repeatedly “never gonna stop me loving you” gets more frantic. “No Apology” is according to the press notes “a love song but sort of twisted” with Samantha adding “it’s the only kind of love song I write“. Samantha utilises her voice so well on this (even more than normal) as she goes from reflective to powerful in style and performance matching the mood of the melody as it travels. Lovely song with gentle harmonies on the chorus.

Giving Cheek And Jip

Flooded Love” sounds like the theme of a road movie that I haven’t seen yet. There is a Dr Who sound effect going on, an out-of-the-normal experience at that point. It has a 1950s vibe to me. Halfway through it turns into something more chaotic sounding leading into the solo with explosive sounds going on around it. All very cinematic.

Lover On The Side” is another that stands out for me. This is a cheeky duet with them trading lines and licks. It sounds like they had a ball recording it as it is a hoot to listen to. I do wonder if all the inflections and quips were scripted or improvised as it sounds very fresh and free-flowing. The chorus suggests they both know they are lovers on the side despite some of Samantha‘s protestations. Live this should be an absolute blast. Love it!  “Rippin’ And Runnin’” is sarcastic with Samantha giving her partner some jip. She goes places with her voice and her personality which is new and fun. This starts country pickin’ style music but changes into a driving riff and having an energetic almost metal guitar solo. Plenty of variety on show here.

Good Use Of Empty Beer Cans

Talking of variety they push the boat out on both “Dangerous People” and “Supadupabad” which both might surprise some of the fans. The first uses banging beer cans for percussion and has an off-beat style riff which sounds confusing almost at first. Massive chorus, very easy to join in with yet very left of centre blues wise. According to the notes some of this is down to “Jon who adds unique parts to songs that were originally just acoustic numbers“. The latter is bonkers as the title suggests. Very soul/disco with Jesse sounding like the chef from South Park (especially as the lyrics are quite obtuse). Catchy and weird. They finish with a ballad called “Know My Heart” which is very country-sounding with both delivering their lines as they sing to each other quite beautifully. As for the harmonies, my word. Gorgeous.

Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton UK Tour October 2023

Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton UK Tour October 2023

Did I Mention FUN?

This album, certainly for fans of Samantha, will surprise and delight, as long as they are happy to hear her branch out and explore not only musical styles but stretch her vocal abilities. Her voice has always sounded great but here she tries new things and nails them.

Hard to say what Jesse fans might think only having heard a small part of what he does, but again I imagine there will be things here that might surprise them. I only received this a few days ago and I already can see this as being in my top 10 of the year. It is not only impressive musically and vocally but it is a huge amount of fun, sounds absolutely fresh (even though one can spot a few lines in songs that hail from their influences) and has so much energy to it. My only hope is that SamanthaJesse and Jon can find another 10 days sometime to play around musically and deliver us another album together. Superb!

The guys are on tour in the UK in October, see the poster at the side of the review for dates local to you!

Pre- Order/Purchase Via Amazon USA  //  Canada  //  UK

Samantha Fish… Official Website  //  Official Facebook

Jesse Dayton… Official Website  //  Official Facebook

Purchase Tickets For UK Tour… HERE

Check out my other reviews here. Tom