RYAN BINGHAM > Mescalito

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

With a voice that’s dry spit and hard scrabble red dust, Ryan Bingham emerges from the Neil Young harmonica-strewn corridor with a fistful of sepia-toned tales that are both squalid and transfixing. Like John Steinbeck or Cormac McCarthy, it is not sentimentalism that drives these 14 songs of life scratched from the cracks in the earth.Label: LOST HIGHWAY
[RATING: 4 ]

With a voice that’s dry spit and hard scrabble red dust, Ryan Bingham emerges from the Neil Young harmonica-strewn corridor with a fistful of sepia-toned tales that are both squalid and transfixing. Like John Steinbeck or Cormac McCarthy, it is not sentimentalism that drives these 14 songs of life scratched from the cracks in the earth. Lurching in places, wheezed in others, Mescalito is a series of torn pages, broken people and those just holding their breath hoping to get out alive.

The churning, slide-lacerated “Sunshine” is the sort of tug and flow that is clumsy in its frankness, yet so wide-open in its guilelessness that you stand awestruck-marveling at how some people can stand honest and naked, even in the desolation. But that is the tone struck by the raw-voiced Bingham and producer Marc Ford, late of the Black Crowes-another band long on aggressive atmospherics.

From the heat waves on the highway guitar notes that open “South of Heaven” to the whispered prayer benediction of “For What It’s Worth,” this is a stoic’s take on survival-and a romantic’s quest to get by. “Don’t Wait for Me” evokes Exile on Main Street‘s spare porousness, while the lagging “Long Way From Georgia” is equal parts longing, Woody Guthrie and plains drifter.

It is mostly a bulked-up high lonesome sound-the leanness of the arrangements echoing with the hollowness that comes from knowing there is no rescue, only the forward trajectory of getting by. Whether it’s the drawn fiddle lines or the occasional shaker shake, these are dire moments and no options, stretched taut across the bones of what can never on the Spanish language “Borracho Station” or the movin’ on treatise of “Sunrise.”

Like Springsteen emerging from the hot tar of late-night blacktops on the outskirts of town, these are the ne’er do wells who won’t quite die. With their dirty hair in the eyes, sunburned skin and burned-out dreams, they infuse urgency into what so many would just leave for dead. Compelling listening to the highest sense.


Leave a Reply

PATRICK PARK > Everyone’s In Everyone

Starbucks And Apple Announce New ITunes Wi-Fi Partnership