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Ryan Bingham

Mescalito – 2007 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Dawn Pomento

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CDs by Ryan Bingham

For a 25 year old, Ryan Bingham has an old soul. He sings about the aches and pains of life with a wisdom born from experiencing more of them than most. The songs cover territory that's been mined by Texas singer-songwriters for decades - dusty highways and dusty fields and the hard scrabble existence of the working poor. Bingham's own history - growing up poor, years spent on the rodeo circuit - lends an authenticity to his words and his prematurely worn voice that keeps those familiar ideas from seeming like retreads.

He mixes tone and tempo, from the plaintive wail of "Don't Wait for Me" and the up tempo blues riffs of "Bread and Water" to the hard rocking "Sunshine." Sometimes the mix is in the same song, as in "Southside of Heaven," where the raw, quiet bridge adds an emotional punch. The varied styles are unified by prominent, guitar powered rhythm lines that run through almost every track.

Waiting through a few minutes of silence at the end of the album rewards you with a final acoustic track, annoyingly hidden within "For What It's Worth." Bingham ends with the repeated declaration that "this is the best of me" - it may be the best of him, but it's unlikely to be the last of him.