REVIEW: Reverend Peyton’s “Poor Until Payday” Takes the Listener for a Swim in the Magical Sounds of the Endless, Rolling Waters of the Blues


On Poor Until Payday (Family Owned Records/Thirty Tigers), Reverend Peyton and His Big Damn Band dig into the very best of the country blues tradition while pushing it forward with original material. Playing a variety of older instruments, including a 1949 Harmony Archtop, a 1954 SuproDual Tone and a 1955 Kay Speed Demon through a 1949 Supro amp, and a five-gallon maple syrup bucket in Maxwell Senteney’s drum kit, as well as a custom-built National steel resonator, the Reverend and the band have restored the “warmth, pops and hisses” mostly eliminated by modern-day compression. Peyton’s fingerpicking mastery recalls the legendary Mississippi John Hurt, as does his deep, soulful voice. “The Big Damn Band,” though it achieves a big sound, is ironically named, as it consists of just the Reverend, Senteney, and the Reverend’s wife, “Washboard” Breezy Peyton on percussion and vocals.

The lyrics on Poor Until Payday, all original songs, often use the repetition structure common to the country blues. In the gospel classic “I Will Not Be Moved,” made famous by Hurt, the chorus goes, “I shall not, I shall not be moved / I shall not, I shall not be moved / Just like a tree that’s planted by the water /I shall not be moved.” The opening track of the album, “Steal My Shine,” opens with the words, “You can’t steal / You can’t steal / Steal my shine.” While many of the songs use this repetition device, Peyton doesn’t limit or bind himself with it. “Get The Family Together” and “Frenchmen Street” don’t use it at all. The lyrics have a timeless quality, avoiding anachronisms of any particular time or milieu. They would have rung true 50 years ago, and will ring true 50 years from now.

Self-produced by Reverend Peyton, Poor Until Payday takes the listener for a swim in the magical sounds of the endless, rolling waters of the blues. Come on in: the water’s great.

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