Formerly leader the of the Road Kings, the second solo album from Jesse Dayton offers up a healthy dose of personal stories and melodies that fall even further into pure country than any previous record. Perhaps with more vocal character than the mainstream would cater to, Dayton nonetheless embraces a slicker, more Nashville-like production on Hey Nashvegas (hence the poking comparison in the title). Songs such as "Never Started Living" and "One Life Stand" have his trademark clever wordiness over his always top-notch musicians and guitar playing, while "Date With the Angels" is an example of Dayton's ability to evoke imagery with solid, enthusiastic lyrics (though bordering on over-singing at times). His voice is especially kind when coupled with others, and he gets some help from Mandy Barnett on "Hey Nashvegas" and "Don't Take Yesterday." Even the Dixie Chicks stop by to sing backups on the most fun song of the lot, "Panhandle Jane." The bittersweet longing of "Letter to Home" is good as any Merle Haggard song, and the south of the border stylings of "Heartbreak California" is a welcome and successful change of pace. What makes this album impressive is Dayton's insightful take on everyday heartbreaks, as told through a classic formula of country and with just the right amount of personality.
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AllMusic Review by Ian Trumbull