Dayna Kurtz: “Billboards For Jesus”
“I’d rather risk being called a dilettante than be stuck just using two crayons out of the big box,” says songwriter Dayna Kurtz. Since she was a kid, the New Jersey native has shown a love for a wide range of genres and musical styles, and that diversity in sound hints at her own music. On April 10, Kurtz will release American Standard and Secret Canon, Vol. 1, two widely different new albums that show the many sides of the singer.
On the one hand, there’s Secret Canon, Vol. 1, Kurtz’s love letter to obscure jazz and R&B. It’s a collection of covers, with Kurtz reinterpreting a wide variety of cuts that range from sublimely sweet to bawdy and hilarious. The album, fittingly enough, was partially recorded in New Orleans, a city that blends the kinds of sounds that influence Kurtz. Her longtime live band serves as the spine, with additional help from Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., and New Orleans pianist David Torkanowsky.
And then there’s American Standard, where today’s song of the day comes from. Recorded in Memphis with Sun Records rockabilly legend Sonny Burgess, Standard shows off Kurtz’s rock and roll swagger. The songs sit at the intersection of blues, rock, country, and soul, and Kurtz acts as the dynamite frontwoman. Like Secret Canon, she found a number of regional obscurities to highlight, but there’s still room for her own writing. Behind a languid backbeat, Kurtz wrestles with both the sacred and the profane on “Billboards For Jesus,” and the song is a perfect springboard for her powerful voice. No matter which side she shows, Dayna Kurtz can dodge those dilettante snipes with ease.