Ryan Bingham – Fear and Saturday Night (Axster Bingham Records) – One of those artists that quietly releases stellar work, Ryan Bingham continues down a path of greatness that’s found him most recently composing “Until I’m One With You,” the haunting theme of the recently-canceled FX original dramatic series, The Bridge. This being the second album he’s released since deciding to go the indie label route with 2012’s Tomorrowland, Bingham went off the grid to compose his latest dozen songs, living in an Airstream trailer parked in a secluded mountain area in California. Delving into a particularly painful past that included the deaths of his mom and dad to alcoholism and suicide respectively, the New Mexico unsurprisingly came up with a number of raw and emotional musical moments. Bingham is the consummate storyteller who paints with huge swaths of lyrical color whether he’s wearily singing, “It’s the power of a choice/To never hear a mother’s tears but to hear her voice” on the closing dirge “Gun Fightin Man” or alluding to his late father, “Well it didn’t take long, for the pills and the bottom of the bottle/to dig a deep grave with a shovel” on the surprisingly bouncy opener “Nobody Knows My Trouble.” Elsewhere, he changes the mood without losing any substance whether he’s using squeezebox and dirty slide guitar to goose along the infectious Tex-Mex workout “Adventures of You and Me,” wryly viewing his mortality via the syncopated rocker “Hands of Time” or pining for his lost love amid the rollicking piano and hefty twang of the yearning “Radio” that briefly morphs into a Faces-like stomper. Like Tom Waits and Steve Earle before him, Ryan Bingham renders whatever he does with a raw and honest vibrancy that’s more the exception than the rule in this day and age.
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