Daniel’s repertoire so far spans three albums.
The first album he released was simply titled Jesse Daniel, and was an absolute master class in vintage country. The whole album features a fast paced, highway driving sound. Guitars, acoustic, electric, and steel alike, power the tracks forward along with quick, punchy drums. The biggest song from the self-titled album, “Soft Spot (For The Hard Stuff)” is very Hank Jr.-esque. The track is delivered with a gravelly, almost slurred inflection, and absolutely chock-full of attitude. “Killing Time Til’ It Kills Me” is the oddball of the album. Lead in by a steel guitar being played with island intent, you quickly start to hear a scraper and maracas begin to shine. The song is about carelessly lamenting over a lost love by drinking the pain away in some old bar, and frankly, what’s more classic country than that?
Album number two for Daniel was a lot of the same flawless western sound from the self-titled project, but with much more polish. Titled, Rollin’ On, this collection of songs allowed each instrument to really shine, as well as Jesse Daniel’s great western voice. Rollin’ On is when most people, including me, started to realize how special this guy was. He offers up some great advice on songs like “Mayo and the Mustard” and “If You Ain’t Happy Now (You Never Will Be)”, while the title track “Rollin’ On” and “Tar Snakes” talk about that longing for getting out on the road, turning off the GPS, and just chasing the horizon. My favorite two tracks though are the more delicate, introspective “Old At Heart” and “St. Claire’s Retreat”. “Old At Heart” is the best on the album in my opinion. I relate very heavily to the sentiment of being young, but feeling out of place, almost like I would fit in better amongst a group of old timers.
The most recent project Beyond These Walls is yet another improvement on the already stellar western sound of Daniel’s discography. This album covers a wide range of emotions and topics. The opening track, “Clayton Was a Cowboy” is a perfect exhibit of Jesse’s story-telling abilities, detailing the story of a rodeo star who meets his fate doing what he loved. I really love the lead guitar on this track as well. Staying with the more somber theme, “Gray” details the struggles of addiction through the eyes of a friend or loved one, while “Lookin’ Back” is a regretful reflection on a past relationship with a steel-heavy, George Strait inspired composition. “Think I’ll Stay” was the first single from the newest album, and was a perfect choice. A rompy boot stomper about finding a “pretty little woman” to dance with, and deciding to just stay and dance the night away with her in the honky tonk. Daniel also goes back to his roots in Mexico with “Soñando Contigo” and “El Trabajador”, the latter of which is fully in Spanish and features a duet with Raul Malo of The Mavericks.
Now if all of this isn’t enough reason for you to give Jesse Daniel a shot, then I can tell you from experience he is a great, down to earth dude.
I went to Charley Crockett’s 2021 show at Hazel Robinson Amphitheater in Asheville, North Carolina, and Jesse Daniel was the opener (one hell of a lineup). After Jesse’s spectacular set, he said he would be back at the merch table, so when the it ended, I got up and went to see if I could meet him before Crockett came on.
When I got to the table, there was a blonde lady in a cowboy hat running the stand, who I recognized from onstage. It was Jodi Lyford, Daniel’s backup singer, co-writer, co-founder of Die True Records, and significant other all in one! She was one of the absolute nicest people I’ve met, we stood and talked for a good five to ten minutes, and I told her how awesome it was to see Charley and Jesse all in one show, and she seemed surprised I knew Jesse prior to the show. Some time went by and she said that Jesse would definitely be back to the merch table when the show was over, and to not worry and go sit back down so as not to miss any of Charley’s set.
After Charley Crockett put on a hell of a show, I made my way back to the merch table, and sure enough, Jodi was there, but this time so was Jesse and his band. When I approached, Jodi remembered me from earlier and got Jesse’s attention for me, and he came over. I was shaking like a leaf and could barely talk straight, as this was pretty much the first time I’d ever met an artist that I loved so much. I told him how much I loved his stuff and how awesome it was to see artists like him and Charley making that good old fashioned country music. He was very grateful and down to earth, and talking to him and Jodi felt just like talking to any couple you’d meet in a small town in Texas. I wasn’t going to ask for an autograph or anything, meeting him and talking was enough, but Jodi insisted I let him sign my wristband, and so he did, and they even gave me a free sticker they had out to sell. I was blown away by the sincerity of those two, and I wish them nothing but pure success.