It’s like the beer bottle you never saw coming. One moment, everything’s fine. The next, you’re looking up to the underside of the table. Jesse Daniel, on his latest record, Rollin’ On, wields a Bakersfield bucket of sound like a drunk with a longneck, intent on righting a mighty load of wrongs.
The album blasts out of the gate with Tar Snakes, a highway song laden with pedal steel from producer Tommy Detamore. Mayo and the Mustard has more Junior Brown than Buck Owens when Daniel tells you to “keep it between the mayo and the mustard when you’re driving on the road of life.” The road life theme also carries through on the title track that reminds us to look forward and not let your past define your future.
Perhaps in support of that forward looking belief, much of Rollin’ On is a trip through Daniel’s less-than-stellar past. Bringin’ Home the Roses is a little dance number hoping that flowers will at least get him through the door to apologize. Old At Heart is a traditional country ballad with a sweet acoustic guitar and fiddle intro. It’s an admission from Daniel that the young man people see on stage has a soul that’s “gray and worn”. Champion inserts a little Doug Sahm style into a tale of an acquaintance who’s so mean even his mom left him. The album finishes with Son Of the San Lorenzo, a bittersweet reminisce of Daniel’s boyhood home out in my part of the world.
If you’re a Twangville reader you’re certainly not opposed to some nasally Telecaster, steel guitar, and boom-chicka-boom-chicka dance numbers. Be forewarned though, Rollin’ On is not a casual consumer of those elements. Jesse Daniel has embraced the Bakersfield sound and layered it with the stories of modern day ne’er-do-wells. If that sounds even remotely interesting to you, you’re going to love this record.
About the author: I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.