Review: Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton— ‘Death Wish Blues’

4 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

What initially seems an unusual combination results in a powerful, spirited, and at times exuberant collaborative effort, different than yet related to both artists’ solo music. Blues rocker Samantha Fish and roots/Americana/outlaw country purveyor Jesse Dayton explore outside their comfort zones in this unlikely partnership. As its title implies, the twosome starts from a blues base but expands into a synthesis of hard rock, gutsy funk, simmering soul, and the occasional ballad.

Unlike similar albums that sound like the participants phoned in their parts, Fish and Dayton worked in person, igniting an often explosive yin-yang approach. They wrote seven of these dozen originals together, but it’s the input of producer Jon Spencer that provides the oil that greases these performances, pushing them into sonic explosions that balance and feature both artists’ participation.


Three covers released in December 2022 as The Stardust Sessions teased the audience. Likewise, this new set kicks into fifth gear with “Deathwish,” finding Fish sneering out lyrics over a sing-along blues-rocking riff. That’s just a prelude as they combine lead vocals on rockers like “Riders” where the singers compare notes on the pros and cons of traveling musicians’ one-night stands. 

They bounce off each other for the propulsive train time, country blues twanging “Lover on the Side.” Fish and Dayton trade vocals, both understanding their illicit relationship isn’t going to last, cranking up the energy in under three minutes. The sense of menace is potent on “Dangerous People” where they join for the chorus of Oh we’re dangerous, don’t play with us unless you wanna get busted as a swampy undertow urges the tune into the red. 

The pair probes Frank Zappa-ish territory on the spoken word jazz–disco funk of “Supadupabad.” Fish’s sultry shouts and Dayton’s husky baritone push the energized association into waters neither has waded into previously. 

Spencer keeps the vibe fresh and spontaneous, the songs are frisky fun, and hopefully Fish and Dayton carve out more time from their bustling careers for a follow-up.

Photo by Kaelan Barowsk / All Eyes Media

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