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The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Between the Ditches (Side One Dummy) 

Burly, gruff and a lightning-struck freak on the slide guitar, Josh "The Reverend" Peyton is an adherent to the country-blues of yore. His barnstorming trio, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, is electrifying onstage—but the band's rough-hewn recordings haven't quite matched the show.

However, the band nails it on Between the Ditches, a well-crafted album with punchy drums, sharply metallic washboard and Peyton's high-wire guitar.

Thematically, the songs hang together, wrapped up in a longing for days that were simpler, sturdier, more honest and fair. It's clear in "Shake 'Em Off Like Fleas" that those are the qualities he seeks in a tomorrow, too.

Echoing Woody Guthrie, Peyton sings "The game is rigged / Then the rules are bent / They don't rob us with a gun / They rob us with fine print," before issuing his call to the multitudes: "A change is coming / A change in store / 'Cause there's more of us than them / And we've freed ourselves before."

Other highlights are "Big Blue Chevy '72," Peyton's ode to his old muscle car; "Easy Come Easy Go," which has a good share of the album's best slide-guitar licks; and the rollicking title song.

Between the Ditches shows Peyton, his wife "Washboard" Breezy and drummer Aaron "Cuz" Persinger at their best.

More by Eric Swedlund

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