Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
The Wages has all the trappings of a good album—unrequited love, tales of crystal meth abuse and the downfall of the family farm, some goodhearted mischief, and a little bit of murder, all sandwiched into clap-your-hands hoot-and-holler music that begs to be sung along with.
The album opens with the romping “Born Bred Corn Fed,��� the Big Damn Band ode to country hospitality. “Homemade jelly, homemade jam, please and thank you, yes sir and yes ma’am!��� the Reverend yelps, backed by twanging slide guitar, the spectacular use of a five-gallon bucket, and wife Breezy on the washboard and backing vocals. (Breezy gets a lot more vocals on this album, which is great because her voice is so cool and fits with the sound so well.)
“Redbuds��� laments getting older and it slows the album down before segueing into the foot-stomping singalong “Clap Your Hands.��� The Big Damn Band do what they do and do it well—they make lyrics that would be embarrassing for any other band feel heartfelt and fun.
One of the standout tracks is undoubtedly “Everything’s Raising.��� It takes the same energy of songs like “Mama’s Fried Potatoes��� and mashes it with the band’s Wal-Mart killed the country store brand of social commentary. The Reverend barks, “Big corporations make the rules, they’re all crooks you know it’s true. The Congressmen, they write the bill, the rest of us are broke as hell!��� Everything’s raising but the wages…amen.
“What Goes Around Comes Around��� is another gem. Karma’s a bitch! The Rev cuts down people that don’t know how to act…sometimes all you gotta do is question somebody’s momma’s parenting abilities. “Didn’t your momma raise you better?��� he snarls. “You can’t help stupid, but you can help mean.��� Way to kick ‘em where it hurts.
The saddest moment of the album is “In A Holler Over There.��� Sure, the minimalist, innocence-lost feel of “Miss Sarah��� would make Andre the Giant weep, but there’s no denying the plight of America, and that’s what “In A Holler��� brings to the table. The more up-tempo last minute or so isn’t enough to scrub the imagery of hungry children, crystal meth addicts, and starving farmers from your mind. Even if the song leaves your brain after the first listen, the message will stay in your heart.
The album winds down with barn-burning “Two Bottles of Wine,��� an epic crowd-participation song that romps and rolls and whistles and hollers along for close to three exhausting minutes. This is one that’ll be well-received by the Warped Tour crowd. Something you can mosh to! On a bluegrass album! Who would have guessed?
All in all, this is a great album. The playing is stellar and the songs are solid—a good mix of social commentary and celebrating the little pleasures in life. You don’t have to be from the country to appreciate it. You just have to have some hope left in you. And that’s what music should be about, isn’t it?--Julia Fitzgerald
Worth a listen: “That Train Song���