Loud, bluesy and vibrant
Poor Until Payday—the latest album from the Indiana trio The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band—pulls you in from the very start with its thumping energy and old-school call and response on “You Can’t Steal My Sunshine.” You can’t help but groove along with Peyton’s powerful voice and bluesy guitar playing. The album is an energetic and cheerful ride from start to finish, with hardly a lull. Peyton’s charisma shines through the album like a bright light.
The album’s biggest strength is certainly its energy. The second track—“Dirty Swerve”—grabs you with its bluesy guitar lick and shuffle feel. The titular “Poor Until Payday” is an anthem to Peyton’s attitude. Even if he’s “poor until payday” he’s still going to sing about everything he wants when payday comes around. He sings about how “I’m gonna buy you all the finest stuff,” but the song isn’t about wanting things. The excitement and confidence and love that permeate the entire album are especially acute on “Poor Until Payday.” You can’t help but feel good listening to it. That’s how powerful Peyton’s passion is.
Another strength is Peyton’s guitar playing. He is an immensely skilled guitar player who prefers a fingerpicking style and often plays the bass line and lead guitar. He is familiar with blues and country to create a style like blues guitar players of old. The guitar riffs on “Dirty Swerve” and “Me and the Devil” showcase this ability. His mastery of fingerstyle is on full display in “So Good,” another floor-pounding anthem about Peyton’s life and on “Church Clothes,” a song about needed to acquire some nice clothes for church.
Several of Peyton’s songs focus on things that he lacks—church clothes, dress shoes, money. Peyton is never hopeless or helpless. He takes everything with an infectious positivity, putting those feelings into every song he writes. Peyton’s cry “I suffer through. I get tougher, too” on “I Suffer, I Get Tougher” sums it up perfectly.
Peyton is accompanied by his wife, Breezy Peyton on washboard, and Max Senteney on drums. The trio puts together a familiar but uniquely bright sound that sounds wanted to be danced to.
Though he could easily go unnoticed, Senteney’s drumming is balanced and strong and provides a song structure and drive that defines the song. His percussion drives each song forward and helps maintain the energy. His New Orleans style jazz is instrumental to “Frenchmen Street.”
The trio has released nine albums and tours extensively. They like creating a spectacle. Peyton has been known to perform on a self-made guitar strung over a functioning shotgun. Their penchant for spectacle, though, does not detract from the music. If anything, this album feels as though it is most at home being performed at a summer music festival surrounded by others enjoying the music.
Poor Until Payday is a loud album, and that is a compliment. Peyton only recorded songs on this album that he thinks are fun to play. Peyton’s infectious enthusiasm makes you want to dance just to be part of the fun he’s having. He may be financially poor until payday, but Peyton certainly doesn’t lack spirit, energy or character.