Some might have though that this day would never happen, but with The Reverend Deadeye’s new album The Trials & Tribulations Of…, the Lord Jesus Christ is cool once again.
The amount of one man band’s busting out of local scenes and making their way into the national eye has in no way diluted the talent or cheapened the bit. On the contrary, maybe it has made for some healthy competition. The difference with Deadeye (who prefers the handle ‘no man gospel band’) is that he truly is more gospel than blues or stomp country. Other OMB’s will use Jesus as a point of reference or a folk character, or maybe rattle off a straight gospel song here and there, but the next song will be about snorting cocaine and shooting their girlfriend. In this album Deadeye never breaks character…for the most part.
There’s songs that you could play for your grandmother, and not be afraid to keep the album rolling afterward. Yet the devil is still in this music, figuratively speaking, with the attitude of punk and the infectiousness of stomp. There’s booty shakers and tearjerkers, and dazzling slide guitar picking from the age when street players had to hone their finger work to keep the nickels clanking when no effects or fellow musicians to take leads were at hand.
Deadeye is great at creating a vintage feel to his music that doesn’t just rely on gear: old hollow body guitars and harp mics. Yeah all of the OMB tools are there, but you can tell he’s studied old gospel and its relationship to blues and country, and how to infuse phrasings and styles with guitar tones, tambourines, and tin cans.
His mastery is best detailed in his take on the old traditional “Chased Old Satan.” Who knows how many hundreds of versions of this song have been performed, and Deadeye’s is the best. The song makes the album worth the purchase by itself. “Coldest Heart” is another good guitar-only take that keeps you enthralled with the finger work, while the opening track “Can’t take it With You” and the last track “Train Medley” duke it out for the best booty shakers.
Only song I didn’t care for way “Drinkin’ On the Bildin'” which is a bumbling take on one of the best gospels ever.
This is one of those albums that is even greater than the sum of its parts. For years references to “the devil” have been used, worn out, and then gone beyond cliche in underground country and dirty roots. Deadeye brings the “Fire and Brimstone” shack preacher attitude, but he also brings an appreciation for the beauty of the words that make up gospel delivered in a straightforward manner without turning them back on themselves just to be cool. Sure songs like “Drunk on Jesus” walk a thin line (he also has an older song called “Fuck the Devil”) but he’s charting a new approach that is fresh and influential on other artists looking to open up new directions in lyricism. And trust me when I say this album has been and will continue to be very influential.
You can purchase Trials & Tribulations for only $7.99 and preview all tracks by CLICKING HERE.