CD Review of Holdin’ Our Own and Other Country Gold Duets by Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh
Recommended if you like
Waylon Jennings, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones
Label
Stag Records
Jesse Dayton &
Brennen Leigh:
Holdin’ Our Own and
Other Country Gold Duets

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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I
f there is an ounce of truth to that old adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” then Jesse Dayton should be Superman strong. Stuck in a 10-year rut of obscurity, the Austin, TX native has grinded through life in a touring band as well as playing guitar for notables Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, and the Supersuckers. None of which has gotten him noticed, nor the half dozen records he’s released over a decade -- so he formed his own label and is set to drop Holdin’ Our Own and Other Country Gold Duets, his fourth independent effort.

The album title gives a pretty fair clue as to what to expect here, as Holdin’ Our Own matches Dayton’s “George” with newcomer Brennen Leigh’s “Tammy” for moments of vintage country duet, well, gold. Together they chug through several authentically twangy originals, while tackling a few less-than-famous covers from classic country pioneers just for credibility’s sake. Like Jones and Wynette, Dayton and Leigh sincerely share the microphone while telling tales about lovin’, leavin’, breakin’ up and makin’ up. They find themselves assuming the role of relationship counselors on “Two Step Program” and travel agents on “Let’s Run Away.” On the gassed-up “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man,” Dayton’s “turbo country” style burns, saluting Johnny Cash and June Carter in dead-ringer fashion.

There’s a lighthearted innocence to this collection that transcends even 23-year-old Brennen’s youth. The Everly Brothers’ otherwise glum “Brand New Heartache” gets lifted up and brightened by a clap-happy piano, while “Somethin’ Somebody Said” brings the knee-slapping goodness of a backwoods square dance. Pure, salty, and unrefined are the vocals, especially Leigh’s, on this eclectic trip down honky tonk lane. Maybe Dayton has been trying too hard to invent his own tractor wheel while his best Johnny and June impression has been calling all along?

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