Yesterday I downloaded the new Ryan Bingham album. $6.99 for music from someone that I have a good history with, seemed a good deal. I didn’t listen to it right away. When I did listen to it for the first time yesterday, it was one of those peripheral listens. I tend to do that with music more often than not. It’s playing in the background, and I am noticing more the beat than anything else. What I noticed here was that Ryan had picked up his beat a lot from his last album. I liked that.
Ryan Bingham came into my life a few years ago when we were on vacation in Colorado. It was the first week in September, which to a person who does not ski, is the perfect time of year to be in Colorado. The weather is lovely and the crowds are small. We were walking down the street in Breckenridge when Jim noticed a flyer on a kiosk. Ryan Bingham was going to be playing at a bar the next night – we had to go.
I did not know anything about Ryan Bingham, but he won me over that night. The venue was a dark basement bar with a few high top tables. We got there early to beat the crowd, which never really came. We had a table right in front of the staging area and got our first dose of Ryan Bingham and his band up close. Guitar playing, cowboy hatted, cigarette smoking, gravelly voiced guy – I was smitten. Mr. Bingham got himself a Missouri fan club that night with his rocking guitars and driving drums. They played and played and came back and played some more. It was one of the best music experiences that I had ever had.
The next year, we were back in Colorado at the same time of year. Coincidentally, so was Ryan Bingham. This time, however, he was not in a dark basement bar. He was opening for Willie Nelson at the amazing Red Rocks. It had been a year for Ryan. He had written a song for a movie and now had an Academy Award. That year, we got our tickets weeks ahead. That show was all kinds of great in so many ways, but that first Ryan Bingham experience would be hard to beat – even by a venue that is a marvel of nature.
So this morning I am spending some more time with the new album. Reviews are mixed, with lots pointing out that he is pouring too much politics into his music and that the long troubadour anthems don’t serve him well. I guess that I see that, but I don’t criticize him for that. On this album there are songs on it that I really like. Flower Bomb is pretty and has some interesting key changes. Heart of Rhythm is fun, driving, good times, rock and roll – it even has some piano pounding. I’m guessing that he loves to play it. Just reading the lyrics, you can kind of tell how this one would play out:
Come on honey we got nothing to lose,
We got the country and the rhythm and the blues,
I told you honey now that I’m your man,
I got a heart full of rhythm they don’t understand,
I’ll give you more than silver gold,
I got a heart full of rhythm and rock n roll
Too Deep to Fill sounds like he is channeling Woodie Guthrie, which is not a bad thing.
So for my $6.99 I got to hear 13 new songs from a guy who has earned his place in my music library. The fact that this album did not overwhelm reviewers – or me – matters not. I am glad he is making music. As an appreciator, I am glad that he is trying new things. I am hopeful that another tour stop lands close to me, and I will be looking out for his next release of music.
You can listen to some of the songs here: Ryan Bingham