Alright, I’ve got a confession to make. Two, actually. Number one: This is probably the very first Ryan Bingham album that I’ve ever sat with, considered, and listened to front-to-back. Two: I’m at least eight Lone Star Lights into the evening, so I’m not sure if this will sound like a rant, a confession, a washing machine, or some kind of combination of the three. If so, good. If you don’t like reading rambling, you might want to go read something more structured, written by a professional. With editors. And deadlines. And no Lone Star Light. You know, the kind of stale shit that reads like a press release.
I know there’s a lot of bleeding hearts out there for Ryan Bingham, & a lot of people who laud him for a plethora of reasons that I never really got. I mean, I haven’t been in a cave. I’ve heard Bingham’s songs for several years. I dabbled with Roadhouse Sun. I never really traced back to Mescalito. I flat-out ignored Junky Star & Tomorrowland. I’m not sure if that makes me someone who’s just being honest, or if that makes me a dick for admitting it, but I just won’t say that I’ve ever been a very interested, devoted, or observant fan. Go ahead. You can chastise me if you’d like. But I’m not sure that my non-involvement in his fandom has anything to do with Ryan Bingham. I don’t know him. I don’t really know his songs. I don’t know his story. I was involved with a bunch of other things and a bunch of other music when he put those other records out. All of my unknowing of Bingham stems more from my distraction than from any disliking of his music. Timing & whatever.
And (since timing is everything) when this record came out, I had nothing going on & got to devote some well-deserved attention to it. I got to approach it from a little different place than some of his more worn & weathered fans. And I love whenever I get to do that. That’s the only reason I’m even writing this. Getting to experience an offering from someone who’s been around like it’s a new album, from a totally new person, fresh on the scene? I think that’s the best way to approach a new piece of work from anyone. Unfortunately, you don’t always get to do that because you usually have some kind of history with a seasoned artist’s music. I don’t have much of a jumping off point for any of Bingham’s work, so my opinions on this record aren’t grounded anywhere in the past. They’re only grounded in the album that I’m listening to now. Which is great.
I won’t sit here & type that it’s groundbreaking or that it’s going to change the world, mainly because I think hyperbole like that is a bunch of garbage. I’m just glad to hear a solid album full of good fucking songs from anyone, to be honest. And this is just that. An album of great songs. From start to end. Great lines, great hooks, great music, it’s got all that. It feels produced enough, but still jagged enough around the edges. It stays just loose enough that it feels like it might come unraveled at any point, and it’s accessible. The subject matter is familiar to anyone listening. And I feel that relatability is probably the single-most indicator of staying-power when we talk about music, at least to me. And I think this album has that staying power.
I’ve taken probably 20 listens to the album, straight-though, and my favorites thus far are Top Shelf Drug, a rocker disguised as a tender love song, wrapped in an addiction metaphor… Adventures of You and Me, a Tex-Mex love-gallop through the USA about two hearts with an unending, unyielding quest for fun… And the title track, Fear and Saturday Night, a haunting dirge of a waltz through a lonesome individual’s rituals involving his weekend plans. And shit, Snow Falls in June is pretty damn good too. It’s an album full of songs that are reflectionary & thoughtfully told by someone who seems to be settling in to a nice even keel. That doesn’t mean it’s boring. Not every album has to be a “game changer” or any other bullshit nouns people like to throw around. Good songs make good albums. Good albums should be thought about, enjoyed, & respected. Because (in my opinion) albums that are good, from start to end, are becoming harder & harder to find.
This was a short review. I guess it really wasn’t a “review”. I just don’t have a whole lot to say about something that can speak for itself. If you’d like a more proper dissection of the album, I’m sure you can Google it. As for me, I’m just glad that I finally got it. Glad that I finally got what everyone dug about Ryan Bingham. Glad that I’ve got a new album in my iTunes that I can shuffle over to when the radio’s all jammed up with trash. Glad for someone who’s putting some effort into making good songs & strong albums. That’s it. Hell, it’s Wednesday night & I’m going to town…