Personnel: Ryan Bingham (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, harmonica); Jedd Hughes (acoustic guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, electric guitar, mandolin); Daniel Sproul (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric 12-string guitar); Jose "Pepe" Carlos Ramirez (accordion); Chris Joyner (piano, Wurlitzer organ); Nate Barnes (drums, percussion); Jim Scott (percussion).
Recording information: Plyrz Studios, Valencia, CA.
Photographer: Anna Axster.
Somewhere after his shot at the big time with the soundtrack to Crazy Heart, the 2009 film that won Jeff Bridges his long-deserved Oscar, Americana singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham wound up sliding back into indie status. A smaller scale suits Bingham and so does age, both developments enhancing his world-weariness. Fear and Saturday Night is a smaller-scale album than 2012's Tomorrowland and it's lighter, too, finding the Americana singer/songwriter settling into a comfortable ragged groove. Ballads still reign, ranging from the sweet melancholy of "Nobody Knows My Trouble" to the delicate introspection of "My Diamond Is Too Rough," but these make the rawer moments pop, such as when he indulges in a bit of raucous Tex-Mex on "Adventures of You and Me" or rides on a Bo Diddley beat on "Hands of Time." Bingham can't help but sound a little beaten -- it's that craggy, creaky voice, one that still sounds older than his years even if he's starting to catch up with it -- but that lightness (he nearly sounds sunny on "Radio") goes a long way, suggesting Bingham finds not only therapy through his music, but life as well. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine