After releasing 2022’s Stardust Sessions EP, Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton began working on a full album. Death Wish Blues is out May 19, 2023 on Rounder Records. It was recorded during a 10 day period at Applehead Recording & Production located in Woodstock New York. The 17 acre farm that the studio is located at what was once Rick Danko’s who was the bass guitarist and fiddle player for The Band. Dayton and Fish put together a band comprised of keyboardist Mickey Finn, drummer Aaron Johnston and Kendall Wind on bass guitar. Most of the album was recorded the old fashioned way with everyone in the studio playing together creating a musical stew comprised of everything from blues and soul to funk and punk seasoned by rock & roll.
The album was produced by Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who has the gift of inspiring the best of the artists that he works with, even if it breaks the rules. All 12 tracks on the album were co-written by Fish and Dayton who share both vocals and guitar duties. Dayton is a multi-talented musician and record producer who worked with everyone from Country stars to Rob Zombie film scores. This is Kansas City native Samantha Fish’s 12th album as well as her 4th collaborative one. The overall sound of the album is blues with lead guitar inspired by legendary bluesmen like Albert King and Magic Sam.
“Deathwish” is the opening song on Death Wish Blues and includes a video of Samantha and Jesse driving in a mint condition 1960 Cadillac convertible. It was one of the first songs that they collaborated on and it was inspired by true-crime documentaries that Dayton was watching at the time. Fish came up with the melody and Dayton added the lyrics about “men taking advantage of women.” “Down In the Mud” sounds like gospel rock that becomes funky with stinging guitar accompaniment and Fish and Dayton sharing vocals. They wail, rap and scream the lyrics with the band providing a foil for the duo to play off of. “Riders” opens with a funky beat and finds Dayton leading on vocals and alternating with Fish. They hit a ferocious throbbing groove singing in harmony as well as sharing guitar peals along with releasing a video of the song about one night stands.
“Good morning New York City
How ya doin’ Alabama”
The 4th cut is “Settle For Less” with Fish singing lead accompanied by a throbbing and infectious bass rhythm leading to a stellar guitar solo sandwiched by Samantha’s enticing vocals. Dayton takes the lead on “Trauma” where he and Fish blow the lid off with some amazing and intense guitar runs. The song itself is about the pain of heartbreak and Jesse lays his pain and frustration exquisitely bare. Song #6 is “No Apology” which opens with a mellow guitar intro reminiscent of Chuck Berry’s 1957 instrumental “Deep Feeling.” Fish’s vocals are emotionally emotive as she sings what she calls a twisted love song and adds “that’s the only kind of love song I write.”
“Flooded Love” is a hard driving number with Jesse and Samantha singing together in harmony to the thudding beat of the rhythm section. The last third of the song concludes with the sound of wild screaming psychedelic guitars. Song #8 is “Lover On the Side” a rocker reminiscent of Ike & Tina Turner’s talk singing delivery coupled with some serious guitar picking.
“Lover on the side?
I’m not buying that!”
“Rippin’ And Runnin’” opens with an acoustic blues for a few seconds before a heavy sounding electric guitar picks up the pace as Fish begins to berate her man for dropping the ball. Her delivery is in the form of a rapping rhythm that bursts into song followed by howling guitars peals and vocal screams and howls. Fish explained that by working with Jon Spencer, different directions were unexpectedly pursued through unorthodox means like banging on beer cans gathered from the backyard to provide the off kilter beat of ‘Dangerous People. Fish sings lead and dominates on the intro before the rest of the band joins in instrumentally and vocally with a screaming guitar accompaniment.
“Supadupabad” is an intense “funk blues” cut that alternates between Fish and Dayton on vocals with the rhythm section driving it along reminiscent of Frank Zappa or maybe even Primus. Fish said, “it’s like a 2 minute party” that was out of her comfort zone but was fun. The final cut on the album was the first song that Fish and Dayton finished titled “Know My Heart.” It’s the most Country sounding song on the album with the duo singing in spellbinding harmony. Jesse woke up one morning with the tune in his head and the two of them hashed out the lyrics together.
When Fish and Dayton recorded Death Wish Blues it was to make the blues accessible to new audiences. The combination of influences from Punk and Americana to Country that are present in the album are intended to communicate to people through the stories that the songs tell. The album fulfills its goal and exudes a joyous feeling that is intended to connect with the listener on an emotional level parallel to their primal nature.
The Review 9/10
– No Apology
– Flooded Love
– Rippin’ and Runnin’
The Big Hit
– Rippin’ and Runnin’
Buy the album: Amazon