This 33-year old Americana/alt. country singer who played the Tuning Fork last year with his new band has a road-hardened, bourbon'n'catarrh voice which belies his years.

As some wag noted, he sounds more like Steve Earle's father. After a bender, I'd add. But, as with Earle, sometimes that raw edge is less expressive than it could be.

Fortunately, Bingham has seen troubles and has a poetic spirit to convey the hurts and losses (Nobody Knows About My Troubles where he defaults to a very standard country style), the darkness he runs from and the safe places found (Radio, and the winning, jangle-lite Broken Heart Tattoos) and the dangers of just a little taste, whether it be drugs, booze or love (the latter "running through my veins" on Top Shelf Drug).

Listen to Radio by Ryan Bingham:

When he tones down the rage and fears - as on the moving ballad Snow Falls in June and the clarity of the understated Darlin' - he sensitively connects head with heart. Unless you like the sound of tyres on gravel this might be a tough call.

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But Bingham remains a country-rock poet with the voice of a bar-room bawler.

Artist:

Ryan Bingham

Album:

Fear and Saturday Night

Label:

(Universal)

Verdict: Troubadour offers open-heart surgery on his emotions

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- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz