For the second Lost Highway release Texas’ singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham, and his crack band the Dead Horses, again hiredMarc Ford (ex-Black Crowes guitarist) to produce. Ford and the band carry through many of the elements that made his last album, Mescalito, an excellent release but they also added elements that make you wonder what the hell they were smoking (literally.)
Day Is Done is the song out of the gate and it’s a winner. Melodic twang mixes it up with swaggering rock and results in a cut reminiscent of the handful of really great cuts that Shooter Jennings released before he became bored and checked out.
Bingham uses his gravely howl to show a hint of a more political stripe more fully shown later on the album. Tell My Mother I Miss Her So is an excellent mandolin-driven porch-stomp wanderlust tale that extends on a wonderful first impression.
Bluebird and Wishing Well are a pair nice electrified blyes-rock cuts that could fit easily in an album Marc Ford performed on, The Black Crowes second album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Snake Eyes and Rollin’ Highway Blues are both beautiful acoustic songs that also use rambling as a theme.
Endless Ways is where Bingham channels his inner Steve Earle. It’s an rocking anthemic anti-war song that sites “blood from a foreign land” that seems to have been partly based on Copperhead Road (one of Earle’s less political songs.) Hey Hey Hurray is a Crazy Horse meets Dylan (or perhaps more precisely Todd Sinder) mix of political and social commentary with unfortunate hippy platitudes that occasionally clunk an otherwise great song. But whatever, in these days where anyone with a cowboy hat must be a Republican I’m sure these songs are going to confuse John Rich fans.
Speaking of unfortunate, Dylan’s Hard Rain and Change Is are two cuts that suffer from 60s stoner ridiculousness.The former channels the Byrds jangly-guitar style that Gram Parsons new well enough to restrain when he led the band into the cosmic-America music direction.
The album Roadhouse Blues is a greasy Sticky Fingers-style honky-tonk rave-up that tops the album off in fine fashion.
Hats off to Bingham and his great band for coming out with a mostly perfect sophomore big label release and credit even for the stinkers for branching out and trying new directions.