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Album Review

"Hick-hop" was a term echoed by more than a few reviewers in describing this debut release by Ridley Bent in their attempt to categorize his rootsy storytelling over busy backing tracks; but, much like the earlier attempt of Greg Garing to fuse bluegrass and trip-hop, Blam ultimately fails to create a new genre, instead being an uneven exploration of sonic backgrounds for his compelling narratives. The story-songs are excellent (in interviews Bent is fond of crediting prolific Western author Louis l'Amour as an inspiration), showcasing Bent's considerable talent at invention, his creative playfulness, and his strong verbal skills. The backing music — fusing hard rock guitar riffs, old-school beats, funky basslines, snappy scratching, and so on — is sometimes interesting, occasionally inventive, but more often both unfocused and self-aware, providing background without accompaniment, an ambience often more numbing than supportive. Overall it is easy to lose the thread of Bent's lyrics in the verses, as he sticks to a narrow vocal delivery, half-talking, half-singing, with the listener only brought back into the song at the choruses or the occasional instrumental break. Still, it is impossible to be dismissive, and sometimes Bent's writing can be clever and memorable: "I'm Johnny Cash when I'm drinkin', I'm the Clash when I'm thinkin', I'm Mad Max when I'm drivin', I'm Mike Diamond when I'm rhymin', I'm Humphrey Bogart when I'm smokin', I'm Bob Marley when I'm tokin', and in bed when I'm dreamin' I'm a guitar-slingin' demon" goes the catchy chorus of "Suicidewinder." He evokes social radicalism à la Utah Phillips or Woody Guthrie in the historical "Fruit Pickers (In Dubious Battle)" and turns in a lovely romantic sketch with "Pastures of Heaven," a song that works musically as well as lyrically. Clearly Blam shows Bent to be a songwriter of considerable talent and charm, even though the fusion of hip-hop and funk with his anecdotal writing style didn't work on all levels. Still, for fans of Bent, Blam definitely has its charms.


Born: 1979 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Genre: Country

Years Active:

Ridley Bent is a Canadian singer/songwriter who began his recording career by blending his unique storytelling with various music genres to create a sound that was called "hick-hop" and grew to become one of...
Full Bio
Blam, Ridley Bent
View In iTunes
  • $18.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music
  • Released: 04 April 2006

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