Jesse Dayton’s Mixtape Volume 1 (Blue Elan Records) is Just What I Needed on a Wednesday evening in the midst of a rough week; pop a cold beer, pop in this record, you’ll be dancing in your living room and singing along before the first track is over. If you throw it in on the way home, then you better roll down the windows – you’ll be singing to the wind – and watch your speed – these tunes will make your foot want to drop. 10 covers, songs you know and songs you don’t but should, in Dayton’s hands are simultaneously as familiar as an old friend and as fresh as first love. Dayton succeeds where many lesser artists fail with cover material simultaneously leaving listeners with the desire to hear the original versions as well as more Jesse Dayton records. Dayton’s east Texan rich baritone speaks with authority and welcomes in strangers in equal measure.
The album kicks off with the one-two punch of Jackson Browne’s “Redneck Friend” and Neil Young’s “Harvest.” While staying true to the original arrangements, Dayton gives these tunes his own country makeover accenting what was already brooding beneath the surface. What follows is a romp through a large variety of source material that hangs together well in Dayton’s skillful hands. Gordon Lightfoot, the Clash, ZZ Top, Elton John, Dr. Feelgood, AC/DC, the Boss, and The Cars all make an appearance. The Clash’s “Bankrobber,” Elton John’s “Country Comfort,” Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper,” and The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” are album standouts harkening to the originals but wholly their own. “Bankrobber” brings out the rockabilly energy that lurks deep in the Clash to the forefront. In Dayton’s hands, “Country Comfort” is reborn on a back road, “in a truck that’s going home”. Dayton’s take reminds us that that country comfort was born down in Texas.
Springsteen’s “State Trooper” has a darker meaner energy hanging on under the weight of Dayton’s grit and growl, angrier and less resigned that The Boss’s original, more Texas than Nebraska. The Cars’ pop classic “Just What I Needed” becomes a slow honkytonk lament under Dayton’s guidance. Dayton pulls out the longing and sadness deep in the lyrics juxtaposing them with the fun instrumental hooks instantly recognizable from the original. As he sings, “I don’t mind you coming here and wasting all my time,” one can help but reply, “well, it hasn’t been a waste of mytime at all; thanks for having me Dayton!” Jesse Dayton’s Mixtape Volume 1 will be a welcomed addition to your catalogue; put it in and put it on repeat until Volume 2 comes out. https://www.jessedayton.com