BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

 |   |  1 min read

Ryan Bingham: Junky Star
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

The name "Ryan Bingham" has been getting a lot of eartime recently -- it was the name of George Clooney's character in the movie Up in the Air.

But more importantly in the real world it belongs to one of the most interesting Americana singer-songwriters of the past deacde -- the man who picked up an Oscar for his song The Weary Kind in the film Crazy Heart (in which he also played a small part).

Bingham first appeared at Elsewhere in 2008 with Mescalito (a Best of Elsewhere 2008 album), then last year with his slightly patchy Roadhouse Sun album in which the volume was cranked up in places -- and might have alienated those who prefer his more marble-gargling, whisky-stained vocals.

The band are kept on a more tight leash for Junky Star as Bingham once again aligns himself with the rootless and restless, and the dispossessed -- literally, on the title track (which could have dropped off Springsteen's Nebraska) which is about someone who lost the farm to the bankers and ends up homeless in LA alongside the junkies and former stars of Hollywood.

Produced by T Bone Burnett, this live-sounding album lets Bingham's evocative, hard-times narratives breathe and that sandpaper'n'bourbon delivery brings every one of these homes hard: "The poet writes his songs in blood" he sings on the opener, and you sense that many of these astutely observed lyrics have been lived in his imagination in an America where the young are shipped out to their fate in the Middle East and promise is left to die on the sun-bleached streets of LA.

One part Steve Earle, another slice of Woody Guthrie (on Depression) and a touch of early Dylan and recent Springsteen's social conscience don't take anything away from Bingham still sounding exactly like himself.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Surf City: Kudos (Arch Hill)

Surf City: Kudos (Arch Hill)

Possibly because this young Auckland four-piece have all that rolling energy of early Flying Nun acts (the Chills and the Clean especially) but turn it up to 11 and make it fat, it has hijacked my... > Read more

Larry's Rebels: I Feel Good (Frenzy)

Larry's Rebels: I Feel Good (Frenzy)

This weekend for Record Store Day there is a vinyl release of a Larry's Rebels collection which pulls together their r'n'b sound on one side and the later psych-pop on the other. But for those... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

When Rod Stewart came to New Zealand in 1992 he wasn't doing any interviews. He was sick of questions about his then-wife Rachel Hunter. And so the shutters went up. I spoke with him. It was easy.... > Read more

Nikki Sixx: A very dim light (1991)

Nikki Sixx: A very dim light (1991)

To tell truth, out of the many hundreds -- indeed thousands -- of musicians I have interviewed very few have been downright stupid. Sure some fumbled for words, others said slightly... > Read more