Jesse Dayton

Country Soul Brother (Stag Records)

Texan Jesse Dayton's fourth solo effort is just shy of a revelation. Since disbanding the Road Kings, he has proven to be a competent, if nondescript, purveyor of Joe Ely-style Texana, playing solid roots music to those folks wanting more brains than Toby Keith can supply. With Country Soul Brother, however, it's as if the ghosts of Charlie Rich and Doug Sahm have inhabited Dayton.

Nowhere is the Rich connection more evident than on the pedal steel and rural soul overhaul of the Cars' "Just What I Needed." Absolutely serious, in intent and execution, Dayton's gruff baritone grabs the song and conveys a hitherto unknown passion. On the title track, Dayton channels Sahm's much-missed mixture of jump blues and hardcore honky-tonk. And with "One of Them Days," Dayton proves that great country can be simple without being simplistic. More than the sum of his influences, Jesse Dayton has made the great leap forward, creating a fine collection of rough-and-tumble country soul, full of the fire and grit originally inherent in both genres.

 
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