SAMANTHA FISH AND JESSE DAYTON – Death Wish Blues (Album Review)

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The cover photo says much about the album and artists. Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton are decked out in ‘50s leather and hair – they look like they just came out of the movie Badlands and are modern-day Martin Sheen and Cissy Spacek. Fish and Dayton are headed out on the road, taking death(wish) with them as they avoid the authorities and accepted conventions. And so they bring us blues, and rock, and a tad bit of country, and even some alternative. They take turns on guitar leads and vocals. It’s a mix of styles and talents that makes “Death Wish Blues” something to reckon with.

Things kick off with “Deathwish,” a pounding blues-rocker with great energy as Samantha Fish tells the tale of dangerous love. The guitar breaks rock out. This is a strong opener. Jesse Dayton takes the vocals on “Down in the Mud.” True to the title, this is dirty blues, getting in the slop and wallowing around.  The guitar is a bit funky on this one – and it fits.

“Riders” is in the same vein, a funky blues offering in which the pair provide a musical conversation, each doing lead vocals in response to the other. This one documents Fish and Dayton’s strengths as singers – they are very good. “Settle for Less” starts modestly, with Fish singing and playing guitar as the rhythm is supported by drummer Mike Dillon – it sounds like he’s just hitting his sticks against one another. And then the song blows up, becoming more of a rocker than anything else. Fish’s vocals are angry – and so is her guitar solo.

“Trauma” puts the spotlight back on Dayton. The guitar fills are great, adding to the story of a love that hurts – but that can’t be stopped. The guitar break is neo-psychedelic, almost in a Neil Young sort of way. This trauma is a mind blower. “No Apology” takes things down several notches. The melody, the rhythm are poppier on this one – if there were a single from “Death Wish Blues,” this would be it. Fish sounds more pleading, more plaintive in this one. There is no guitar break, just the strength of an excellent singer unloading her heart.

“Flooded Love” is driven by a bass line that comes straight out of Peter Gunn. It then has a psychedelic break that comes out of nowhere (and yet is very interesting). This one has punch as the duo share lead vocals. “Love on the Side” chugs along with a nice guitar riff and sees Fish and Dayton involved in a vocal conversation. Somebody is gettin’ done wrong and it feels so good.

“Death Wish Blues” Artwork

“Rippin and Runnin” starts with a pure blues riff that changes into a hot rocker. Fish’s vocals are inviting yet tough. “You get what you pay for” indeed. “Dangerous People” has Fish at her most alluring – and dangerous. She likes ‘em crazy. Maybe she is crazy. The scratchy guitar just adds to the feeling of this blues rocker.

“Supadupabad” has a rhythm and push reminiscent of the Doobies“Jesus is Just Alright.” But the guitar work is more frenetic. Dayton tosses in some spoken word lyrics. This one is wild, nearly out of control for all 2:07 length. The intro to “You Know My Heart” is similar to that of “Angie” by the Stones. A little quiet, a little longing, very catchy.  This one is a love song, not in your face like so many of the other offerings on “Death Wish Blues. It’s an appropriate way to close things out.

Let’s acknowledge one thing – this Deathwish isn’t for everyone. Samantha Fish has built a reputation as a rocker of the first order, combining that genre with a touch of blues. If you have questions, check out her version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” – it nears Ozzy status in its energy and blast.  Jesse Dayton has played with Waylon and Willie, with Rob Zombie and Social Distortion. Folks who are looking for that in “Death Wish Blues” will be sorely disappointed.

But the album never claims to be that. This is two artists steeped in rock and blues, come together to share vocals and guitar leads on an impressive debut record as a duo. The pair are on tour as we speak, and it remains to be seen what and how they do on the road. “Death Wish Blues” could be just a starting point. Maybe they’ll jump into that ’51 Mercury Coupe, armed with their axes, and do some real damage beyond the Badlands.

Released By:  Rounder Records
Release Date: May 19, 2023
Genre: Blues / Country / Alternative Rock

  Band Members:

  • Samantha Fish / Guitar, Vocals
  • Jesse Dayton / Guitar, Vocals
  • Austin Clements / Bass
  • Mike Dillon / Drums

“Death Wish Blues” Track-list:

1. Deathwish (2:39)
2. Down In The Mud (2:52)
3. Riders (3:40)
4. Settle For Less (3:09)
5. Trauma (3:06)
6. No Apology (4:16)
7. Flooded Love (2:39)
8. Lover On The Side (2:48)
9. Rippin’ And Runnin’ (4:21)
10. Dangerous People (3:31)
11. Supadupabad (2:06)
12. Know My Heart (3:47)

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8.8 Excellent

This collaborative effort has a singular look and feel to it, as befits the artists behind it. This will not be to everybody’s tastes, especially those early fans of Samantha Fish, who may view this as a cop-out. But Fish and Dayton blend together well and have produced a great quality and very enjoyable record

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 7
  • Production 9.5

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