Remember the philosophical story about the optimistic kid who wakes up on Christmas morning to find his stocking filled with dung? Clearly in seventh heaven about his gift from Santa, he is asked by his parents why he’s so happy. Jumping with glee and boundless joy, he replies “with all this horse shit around, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere”.
In amongst all the constant strife and political turmoil of beautiful South Africa, Vern Daysel is not so much a pony as a rockin’, chomping-at-the-bit, axe-wielding stallion.
Having just recorded his second album, ‘Blood Of A Wolf’, the follow-up to 2016’s debut offering, ‘Shootin’ The Breeze’, Daysel is an absolute gem of a discovery. Without wishing to come across as just another lazy reviewer, anyone who loves the country rocking blues of bands like Blackberry Smoke and even Blackfoot from wayback, is going to want to get some Daysel in their stocking this festive season.
These two albums are both absolute corkers – goodtime, groin-tingling, guitar-driven, straight-up blues rock. Combining a serious ear for melody with a gorgeous, meaty guitar sound, Daysel can rip it up on excellent tracks like “Ride Like Lightening” and “Up Sh*t Creek”, get his dirty groove on with “Bad Reputation”, come up with songs like the jaunty, country-tinged “Till I See You Again” (which Spike and The Quireboys or Rod and the Faces would have given up drinking beer and shagging to have written) and out-Frees Free with “Movin’ On”.
Hey, and this is just the ‘Shootin’ The Breeze’ album – which closes with the acoustic-to-electric epic, “Lonesome Road”, Led Zep write that song in 1969 and it becomes a classic! I’m surprised Jimmy Page hasn’t yet claimed retrospective song-writing credits to this one – he surely will when Vern hits the big-time.
Newly-released ‘Blood of a Wolf’ continues the raunch and roll theme from the gritty title track, through the tight, chugging urgency of “Last of a Kind” (Reverend Billy Gibbons take note) and the warm/snug, foot-tapper “So Long and Goodbye”.
The jangly “Moon River” puts the tree back into country to great effect and “Bright Lights” channels The Eagles, vocally and melodically. “Good To Be Bad” is a twelve- bar, party romp which honestly, like all the songs on both albums, goes through the ears as easy as shit through a goose.
I would suggest Vern calls Charlie Starr from the Smoke for some advice but if Charlie hears this stuff, I’m afraid he’s gonna hang up, thinking “who needs this much competition?”
Unashamedly Southern-rock respectin’, these two albums are amongst the best interpretations of this genre I’ve heard in a long, long time. With more hooks than a church cloak room, the songwriting is top notch in its simplicity and Daysel’s execution, both vocally and on the six-string, is delicious and exemplary.
Now we gotta start a “#getVernoutofSouthAfricaandintotheheartland” campaign – we owe it to the world to bring Vern Daysel to a wider audience. Hell, I’ll even carry his guitar case and drive his van.
Two very strong albums indeed. Shit-kickin’ stuff ... *****
Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw
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