By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, December 7, 2012
Like the Ben Folds Five, the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is misleadingly labeled. The bigness of the Reverend’s trio comes not from numbers, but from the sonic prominence of his primitive, Southern-rock guitar riffs. There’s nothing fancy or innovative about these repeating, two-bar figures, but they’re so catchy that Peyton’s original songs are hard to resist.
That’s especially true on his new album, “Between the Ditches.” Rather than quickly documenting its live show, the Indiana band took more time in the studio and achieved sharper definition. As a result, you can more clearly hear the interaction of Peyton’s voice, his various guitars, the percussion of his wife, Washboard Breezy, and the drums of his cousin Aaron Persinger.
The results remind one of the early days of ZZ Top before that trio turned to self-caricature. Peyton repeats his key lyrics nearly as often as he repeats his guitar licks, but those verbal phrases are similarly memorable, whether he’s complaining that “Devils Look Like Angels” here on Earth, pleading “Don’t Grind It Down” to the coal companies eying his beloved mountain or advising that when it’s hot you should open the door but “Shut the Screen.” Offering a welcome change of pace is the relatively subdued, hymn-like “We’ll Get Through.”