Album: Ryan Bingham

Mescalito (Lost Highway)
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The Independent Culture

Ryan Bingham is cut from the same dusty Texan denim as troubadors Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Terry Allen the latter of whom has already heralded Bingham as heir to "the hard-travelling, deep-knowing likes of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams". That's an exaggeration, but it's possible to discern the cause of his enthusiasm in road-weary odes such as "The Other Side".

The opening "Southside of Heaven" is typical of Bingham's approach: the acoustic guitar, wistful harmonica and poignant pedal steel have the campfire glimmer of Neil Young's Harvest, but Bingham's smoke-cured croak of a voice is better suited to this cri de coeur for a life lived hard. Produced by former Black Crowe Marc Ford, the arrangements range from Stones-y raunch-rock ("Take it Easy Mama") and working man's blues ("Dollar a Day") to Mexican waltz ("Boracho Station"); and though still only in his mid-twenties, Bingham has already led a tough enough life, as an itinerant rodeo bum, to bring the ring of truth to his observations.

Download this: 'Southside of Heaven', 'Sunshine', 'The Other Side', 'Ghost of Travelin' Jones'