To call him country would be akin to labelling the Beatles simply 'Merseybeat'
Daryl Easlea 2009
Looser and wilder than last year's Mescalito, Roadhouse Sun – Ryan Bingham's second release on Lost Highway – kicks in and doesn't relent throughout. It’s an album written after some time on the road. Described as ''unblinkingly personal and unapologetically political'', it straddles both camps with a degree of élan.
After Mescalito garnered widespread praise, Bingham returned to the studio with Black Crowes producer Marc Ford for another instalment of organic heavy western. Day Is Done, with its strident, blustery blues and sloppy choruses suggests we are in for a rambunctious ride.
Dylan's Hard Rain is a state-of-the-nation address to America, nearly 50 years after A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall. Bingham looks at the downside of a country in fear and surmises that, ''Everybody's wishing they could dig their ass out of the grave''. This is set against a most Byrdsian jangle that makes it compelling.
When for these ears it doesn't work so well is on Tell My Mother I Miss Her So, a paean to his deceased parent, which is too unashamedly yee-haw; better is Bluebird, with its driving anthemic surges. Change Is, takes the record to another level with its mellow acoustic interludes folding into metal bombast, all seven minutes of it. Rollin' Highway Blues celebrates and perpetuates the western tradition – a straight, plaintive lament.
Roadhouse Sun flaunts Bingham's restless desire to avoid being pigeonholed. To call him country would be akin to labelling the Beatles simply 'Merseybeat' – it is part of what he does (and he does like the hats) but only a part. This is a confident, breezy joy and a rewarding listen.