Death Wish Blues showcases the raw power of Fish and Dayton’s guitar playing, both with foundations grounded in blues music. They also push the envelope by skillfully combining their strengths into an album of songs that brims with swagger and bravado as well as emotion and sensitivity thanks to Jon Spencer’s production. The result is a raw combination of blistering blues, deep soul, punk, funk, and good old rock-and-roll.
The album is available May 19th onward on all platforms.
Fish and Dayton are gearing up for a round of tour dates to support Death Wish Blues. A full list of tour dates is below.
Hailing from Kansas City, MO, Samantha Fish is one of the most dynamic blues forces in the world today, headlining festivals and captivating audiences with her guitar prowess and power vocals. An award-winner and road warrior, she performs 200 shows a year, both domestically and abroad. Death Wish Blues is her seventh album.
Jesse Dayton boasts an exceptional resume as an acclaimed solo recording artist, collaborator with artists such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Duff McKagan, a touring guitarist for seminal punk band X, teammate with Rob Zombie on the soundtracks for his iconic horror films, and as a radio show host on Gimme Country.
Here comes the review:
The album opener took me into The Beatles with “Hey Bulldog.” It had that confident swagger and the riff that sets up the album. It’s a great track; “your kiss is like a death wish,” sings Samantha, and the whole sound gets you right in the groove from the opening note, it rocks quite a bit as well! It’s a collaborative number. “Samantha sent me that melody, and I went into my writing room and started coming up with some lyrics inspired by all these true-crime documentaries I’d been watching,” Dayton recalls. “It turned into a song about men taking advantage of women, and I knew that Samantha could really chew on those lyrics and sing them with a lot of attitude.”
Photo by Daniel Sanda
“Down In The Mud” (2:52)
This one switches to a rougher, bluesier sound. Jesse Dayton takes the lead vocals on this one, and he kind of reminded me of Tom Jones in places. It shows one of the layers in the album,
“It was always a big deal when Jesse came through town to play a show—we first met when I was 20, and I kept up with him through the years,” Fish says of the Beaumont, Texas-bred musician. “I’d been wanting to do a collaborative project for a while and went to see Jesse perform in New Orleans, and right away I knew he was the guy. We got together and had this vision of making something of an alt-blues record, but it turned out to be so much more exciting and layered than I ever imagined.”
Vocals switch as this funky sounding number comes to grab you.I liked the drum sound from
Aaron Johnson on this one, it is a rocky number and “It’s a hard-dollar darling.”
“Settle For Less” (3:09)
Finger clicking, slower, and moody. It has a cool rhythm section and wanders into jazz/rock territory. The guitar work here is very good indeed, and Samantha delivers a gritty vocal. It’s a meditation on self-worth.
Another track leads with some incendiary guitar work, layered over a funky bass sound. I could see this one being a big number live, it sets off a fair few fireworks. They do a solid contrast between verse and chorus, have a listen!
“No Apology” (4:16)
We move to a wistful ballad, smooth, jazzy, and one to have with a late night cigarette. I liked it a lot Death Wish Blues slips into a moment of heavy-hearted outpouring, with Fish’s graceful yet gut-punching vocals riding the line between tender longing and
unapologetic self-possession. “‘No Apology’ is about fighting with the one you love and wanting to push through and make everything okay again,” says Fish. “It’s a love song but sort of twisted, because that’s the only kind of love song I write.” It’s mid-album, but a great track.
“Flooded Love” (2:39)
Back to a rock sound, it is bluesy rock with that strong bass sound. I liked the rhythm, you can dance to it, or punch a fist—whatever rocks your world! It mixes anger with a strong drum sound. Not a personal favourite, but a solid enough track.
Photo by Kaelan Barowsky
“Lover On The Side” (2:48)
Trading vocals, Jesse and Samantha have a lot of fun with this one. I could see this one going down a storm live, as it is very much a performance song, it’s full of energy and great guitar work. It’s a sexy song!
“Rippin’ And Runnin” (4:21)
This is contemporary blues, the vocals from Samantha are top drawer on this one, a strong beat, loads of attitude; and “you get what you paid for” – a damn good song. It is the full package, and the longest track on the album.
“Dangerous People” (3:31)
The recording sessions for Death Wish Blues also included such unexpected moments, as building the off kilter beat of “Dangerous People” by banging on beer cans gathered from the backyard. “What I loved about working with Jon is that we brought in a bunch of songs that we’d demoed on acoustic guitar, and he’d go in and find a way to add all these unique parts that I never would’ve envisioned,” says Fish. “Sometimes it was jarring at first, but everything ended up fitting so perfectly.” It is one of the rock numbers here, another one that is begging to be played live and I think the audience would be rocking away happily to it.
This is a gloriously carefree piece of blues-funk, complete with references to sipping Courvoisier from crystal cups. “That song was way out of my comfort zone, but it felt good to get sort of silly and just have fun with it,” says Fish. “It’s like a two-minute party, and I don’t think I could’ve ever come up with something like that on my own.”
It is certainly different in pace and feel from the rest of the album, the spoken vocals are delivered in a soundover style, and at times they wouldn’t be out of place on a modern punk piece. I couldn’t see this one working live, but it is a very interesting album track.
“Know My Heart” (3:47)
“That’s the first song that Jesse and I finished together,” Fish points out. “He sent it to me one morning and told me he’d woken up the night before with that melody in his head, and we started singing it together and fleshing out the verses. It turned into a
song about being far from your loved one and maybe things aren’t going the way you want, but you know they’ll love you through your worst and see your better intentions through it all. I thought that was a beautiful way to end the record.”
This reviewer agrees! It is a beautiful duet and it is a terrific closer for the album.
So in summary, one of the standout albums in 2023 so far.
Standout tracks: “Deathwish,” “Lover on the Side” and “No Apology.”
Samantha Fish – Vocals, Guitar, Cigar Box Guitar, Junkyard Percussion
Jesse Dayton – Vocals, Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Tambourine
Kendall Wind – Bass
Mickey Finn – Keyboards
Aaron Johnston – Drums
Produced by Jon Spencer
Executive Producers: Rueben Williams and Jude Chauvin
Recorded and Mixed by Chris Bittner at Applehead
Recording & Production, Woodstock, NY
Assistant Engineer: Michael Birnbaum
Mastered by Chris Athens at Chris Athens Masters, Austin, TX
Mastering assisted by Harrison Holmes
By Lorraine Foley
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