Rev. Peyton's down home, back-porch music resonates with the blue collar set, in tone and message. But for his latest, Poor Until Payday, he says that phrase has a larger meaning, waiting on the real payday.
But with his powerful, sock-in-the-guts, foot-stompin' country blues and locomotive delivery, Peyton assures his fans there's no need to get all sad and whimpery while waiting for the ultimate paymaster to tally up your time card you've been punching for Him. Peyton's videos are almost as much fun as his live shows, with the Rev., his bride Breezy, and drummer Maxwell Senteney banging out celebratory anthems on a variety of subjects surrounded by a cast of Peyton's neighbors and acolytes helping him celebrate the cause of the moment. Nobody is set on fire or shot, and there's no hawg wrasslin' or dead clown resurrection like on his last release, We Deserve a Happy Ending, but there's still plenty going on as the Rev. leads a rowdy crowd in a rag-tag parade behind his towed vintage Coupe De Ville convertible, guitar ringing out like Elmore James while he gruffly bellows out his promissory note.
All the tunes on the session are the Rev.'s compositions. But “You Can't Steal my Shine” sounds like an old African-American spiritual taken across the aisle and whomped-up gloriously for secular use. Wife Washboard Breezy contributes joyous, churchy whoops in the background as the Rev. cranks out vats of greasy slide and a freight train load of percussive fingerpicking.
How can you not like a guy who tells his beloved-to be on “So Good” that “I don't look like you want me to look / I wasn't born with a famous last name / I like peaches and I like porches / I drink from the hose / and I ain't ashamed. I aint bad / I'm just ugly / If you knew me / I know you'd love me.”
Although he's a colorful showman, his shows lit up by his muscular licks aided by Breezy doing her Hendrix knockoff, setting her washboard on fire, at heart Peyton is a serious blues scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of the art form. On “Church Clothes,” he demonstrates his deep understanding of the people who wrote country blues, tearing a page from their daily struggle to grub just enough from the ground to survive and finding themselves having to buy church clothes after getting the worst kind of call and knowing they can't show up for the final sendoff in dirty overalls.
Rev. and the Big Damn Band are in full stomp on “Get The Family Together,” Peyton ripping along alternating between slippery slide and ferocious fingerpicking, once again getting country values down pat: “We'll never go fishing if we wait on the weather / don't wait for a funeral to get the family together.”
Peyton goes up the hill a piece for “Me and the Devil,” a doleful dirge warning an enemy that both he and the devil are coming for him, promising that “If I get you first, it will be worse.”
As per its name, “Frenchman Street” is French Quarter travelogue that struts along with a second line bounce.
There's nothing wishy-washy about the Rev.'s message – you always know where he stands. Even when he tackles a love song, it sounds like it was pounded out on an anvil. “It Is Or It Ain't” leaves no wiggle room: “You do or you don't / No in between / If you're only halfway / then set her free,” he proclaims, sliding his message home over a window-rattling backbeat.
In the liner notes, Peyton says no technical trickery was involved in the process, performing live in the studio with old guitars, amps and mics. The art form he chose is even older, and he does it justice without making it sound like it's museum ready.
“I think of myself as a blues musician,” Peyton says. “At the beginning and the end of every single thing that I do, that's what I wanna be thought of, as that.” With product like this, that legacy is a done deal.