Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

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Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Change Is
Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

American singer-songwriter Bingham's voice was so lived in and road-hardened on his debut Mescalito (a Best of Elsewhere 2008 album) that he sounded like a man far beyond his mid-20s. He seemed to have literally lived the rough roadhouse life and whisky bars that others could only suggest they had.

You didn't doubt his stories of hard times but this time out with a band (under a name that recalls Crazy Horse but somewhat more visceral and fly-blown) he kicks the volume and anger levels up. He's angry about the state of the world and prepared to shout rather than whine about it like some.

"Everybody's tired of the in-between" is the key line here (on the gritty Endless Ways) and he's taking the stand of man not gonna take it any more. Which of course is a common position, but there is again something so raw and committed in Bingham's delivery (and the punch the band bring) that makes you in no doubt of his sincerity. Check the scouring seven minutes of Change Is for further evidence.

He still offers up songs where that gravel'n'whisky voice is out front (imagine Springsteen or James McMurtry after a night, no make that a week, on the turps) but when the band fire up in an uncompromisingly loud assault (more rock than country) things really grip. One part-Band, two parts-Crazy Horse with a dash of Allmans/Black Crowes.

My suspicion is that those who "got" Mescalito might find this just a noise too far. But when you hear what he's saying you know that righteous rage usually needs a more powerful vehicle to convey it.

It is patchy for sure, but Bingham is man you can't afford to overlook if you like rock'n'roll country that says something. And I don't doubt him when he sings on the cracked ballad, "never going back to that rollin' highway again".  

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