Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Music Review: "Roadhouse Sun" by Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses

I've been looking forward to Ryan Bingham's new effort with great anticipation. His 2007 major-label debut (if you can call Lost Highway a major label), Mescalito, earned a top spot in the Scampwalker rotation. From the dusty, hypnotizing opening track "South Side of Heaven," to the Bo-Diddley-riff-inspired "Bread & Water," to the lazy, wistful "Long Way From Georgia," I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. (I was on my way to north central Kansas on a hunting trip, if you must know -- and it fit perfectly).
Granted, the circumstances are different for Roadhouse Sun. I'm sitting in my office over my lunch hour listening instead of on an open road. Mr. Bingham is no longer an obscure troubadour, either -- he's been anointed by Joe Ely, has appeared on Jay Leno. So times are different for both of us.
From the get-go, the album feels more polished, more rehearsed. I won't call it overproduced, but it just feels like Bingham is more conscious of his lyrics and his sound. That's probably to be expected, but even with that burden, he still has a solid sophomore effort. A few standout tracks:
  • "Tell My Mother I Miss Her So" - jangly mandolin shuffle that could be a sequel to Mescalito's "Take Me To The Other Side."
  • "Bluebird" - a strong backbeat that I swear sounds like it could be an outtake off a Springsteen disc.
  • "Endless Ways" - an anthemic kiss-off that I predict I'll spin at peak volume on the way home from a rough day at work.
  • "Change Is" - I cannot wait to hear Ryan and the 'Horses hammer this one out live.
All in all, it's a solid effort that I look forward to getting to know better. Right now on Amazon, the MP3 version is on sale for a paltry $3.99, and you get an Amazon-exclusive track out of the deal, too. The kid's certainly worth a lot more than that.


  1. Read the review and you convinced me to buy it. I'll let you know what I think.

  2. I'm revising my review. After a rough day at the office, listening loud with a G&T or two in me, it's classic Bingham. Get it.