The latest album from Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band was written by candlelight and then recorded using the best technology available . . . in the 1950s. But listeners won’t find another album as relevant, electrifying and timely as Dance Songs for Hard Times.
Dance Songs for Hard Times conveys the hopes and fears of pandemic living. Rev. Peyton, the Big Damn Band’s vocalist and world-class fingerstyle guitarist, details bleak financial challenges on the songs “Ways and Means” and “Dirty Hustlin’.” He pines for in-person reunions with loved ones on “No Tellin’ When,” and he pleads for celestial relief on the album-closing “Come Down Angels.”
Far from a depressing listen, Dance Songs lives up to its name by delivering action-packed riffs and rhythms across 11 songs. The country blues trio that won over crowds on more than one Warped Tour knows how to make an audience move.
Peyton, the cover subject of Vintage Guitar magazine’s January 2020 issue, showcases his remarkable picking techniques on “Too Cool to Dance.” It’s rare to hear a fingerstyle player attack Chuck Berry-inspired licks with index, middle and ring fingers while devoting his or her thumb to a bass line. Yet the multi-tasking Peyton has made an art of giving the illusion he’s being accompanied by a bass player, despite the Big Damn Band’s roster featuring no one beyond himself, Breezy on washboard and Max Senteney on drums.
Conditions aren’t ideal when compared to pre-pandemic adventures that allowed the Big Damn Band to play for audiences in nearly 40 countries. But those days will return, and in the meantime we have Dance Songs for Hard Times.