Nov 022007

If you were a PR flack inventing fictitious character backgrounds for the perfect Americana Star, you couldn’t write a narrative any better than Ryan Bingham’s. According to his press kit, he grew up in rural Texas doing ranch work in the wilds. Basically lived on his own from an early age. Did the rodeo circuit for a while, often sleeping in the bed of his pickup. Learned to play guitar from a neighbor who played mariachi. Influenced by Dylan, Marshal Tucker, and Bob Wills. Eventualy got a gig in a bar and then hit the big time. The result is his debut on Lost Highway records called Mescalito and the thing that impesses me the most about this music is that it’s basically a rock CD. Not a single honky tonk or Texas swing tune on the entire CD as far as I can tell. There’s all the trappings of a country band there. Mandolin, slide guitar, some occasional harmonica. But even so, I wouldn’t even call this CD a “country rock” CD. I’d just call it a rock CD set in Texas. Maybe the production help from Marc Ford had something to do with it. I really got into the opening track, “Southside of Heaven” because the band actually had the nerve to pause and change tempos in a song. I also really liked “Bread and Water” and “Borracho Station.” But the stand out track that’s gonna make the heavy rotation lists has got to be “Travelin Jones.”

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