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Mescalito

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Album Review

Loneliness runs rampant in Texas, where arid flatlands and empty highways converge to influence some of country music's best songwriting. Newcomer Ryan Bingham is happy to use such geography as his muse, and he makes his major-label debut with Mescalito, a bilingual collection of Americana that often delves into roadhouse country-rock. To those familiar with the genre, Bingham's lyrics are somewhat predictable accounts of hard times, rivers' edges, and fieldwork, all sung in a wizened rasp whose sandpapered texture is impressive coming from a 25-year-old. Years of sleeping outside rodeo arenas in a truck bed have done a number on Bingham's throat, and when he croaks lyrics like, "I've been working in the goddamn sun for just one dollar a day," it's all too tempting to believe him. When he's singing about marijuana plants or casually slipping into Spanish during a Mexican ballad, Bingham truly distinguishes himself from his country contemporaries, playing the rugged outlaw to Nashville's smooth Rascal Flatts. Where he falters is the album's homogeneity, however, as too many tracks adopt a midtempo pace whose haunting effect wears thin. One can't help but wish for more country-rock grit, but Mescalito still bodes well for his future work.

Biography

Born: 31 March 1981 in Hobbs, NM

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Americana singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham was raised in rural Texas, where years of hardscrabble ranch work and rodeo competitions would later lend a sense of authenticity to his music. Living alone since his mid-teens, Bingham shuttled back and forth between Southwestern border towns and relatives' homes, often sleeping in his truck after rodeo shows. It was during those treks that he began entertaining friends with the guitar, an instrument he'd learned at the age of 17 from a mariachi neighbor....
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