On Fire In Nashville, as the name implies, is a smoking hot mini-album recorded live at last year’s Americana Fest in Nashville. Anyone who has caught Jesse Dayton’s incendiary shows on his past couple of visits to these shores will know what to expect but it’s gratifying to report that the disc captures much of the excitement and sheer joy which exudes from the stage. It’s loud and vibrant with the instruments and Dayton’s hell raisin’ voice leaping from the speakers.
Backing Dayton’s voice and guitar are Chris Rhoades on bass and Kevin Charney on drums with the pair of them also contributing backing vocals. They are a true power trio, churning up a veritable wall of noise at times but always remaining true to a gritty brand of real roots music, a grand mix of rockabilly and tough country music; hillbilly rock’n’roll as Dayton calls it here in one of his introductions. With seven songs and a good helping of Dayton’s between song banter, the album certainly zips along (and is probably one of the few examples where one wishes that a live album was twice as long) and presumably, it’s the full set played as showcases at the AMA’s are usually short, show off affairs. Thus we get the barnstorming Daddy Was A Baddass opening the set then the Waylon Jennings’ like country rocker The Way We Are, both stuffed full of fantastic guitar licks and solos from Dayton. From his latest album, The Outsider, there’s May Have To Do It (Don’t Have To Like It) which rumbles along splendidly showing off the band as the natural heirs to The Blasters while Hurtin’ Behind The Pine Curtain is a fine slice of outlaw country which has the fury and venom of a coiled rattlesnake ready to strike.
Dayton then takes time to pay tribute to one of his favourite artists, Nick Lowe, on what is the most restrained number on the album, Lately I’ve Let Things Slide. It’s a glorious version capturing Lowe’s nuance while hammering home his melody and Dayton lets rip a short but fiery solo. Next is Take Out The Trash, dedicated to, “All the people who have not had a perfect life,” and which rips along sounding like The Clash fighting the law. Dayton switches to a furiously picked acoustic guitar for the closing song, Charlottesville, written in protest against the right wing neo Nazi thugs who marched in Charlottesville in 2017 leading to the death of Heather Heyer who was protesting against them. As Dayton says in the introduction, he grew up listening to protest songs from Woody Guthrie to Neil Young to Joe Strummer and here he’s justifiably angry, roaring the song out with a true sense of patriotism.
It’s only seven songs but On Fire In Nashville is probably the most kick ass album you’ll hear this year so do yourself a favour and buy it. And then, if you’re lucky, go see Jesse Dayton as he is swinging through the UK at the beginning of June with a handful of English dates supported by the great Russ Tolman and then is back in July for a couple of festival shows.
JUN 1 Red Rooster Festival
JUN 2 The Half Moon Putney – Country In The Afternoon Festival London
JUN 4 The Greystones Sheffield
JUN 5 Night People Manchester
JUN 6 Fat Lil’s Witney
JUN 7 The Sebright Arms London
JUL 20 Ramblin Man Fair 2019 Maidstone
JUL 21 Summertyne Fest Newcastle