Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The tired throat and the saddlebags beneath the eyes were evident, but not many singers pull off the tired throat better than Ryan Bingham. He's actually made the hoarse, cockle burr-y sound of his singing feel like an old love letter, heard in your head, recited by the voice that originally broke your heart. Near the end of his song, "Yesterday's Blues," Bingham sings, "I shook the hand of the deepest sorrow," and he writes like a man who keeps a palm that's always warm with those kinds of hands.
He sings of drunken horses and riding straight toward the sun and his characters come off as those kinds of hampered men who need to catch a break, but who might just be destined to continue feeling the sting of a raw life. They are down on their luck or they've been born into a situation that would take two lifetimes to dig themselves out of. And still, Bingham's music -- if it were only focused on the facets that were going sourly -- would be less appealing.
What he has is a drifter's sense of the romantic, where maybe in the next city over, he'll fall into the greatest steak dinner he's ever feasted on and he'll meet that woman who will make things a little better. He will come upon that love that's been lacking -- the best reason he's found yet for getting out of bed in the morning. He's willing to "dance in this depression" as he sings on "Depression," and he's willing to continue his relationship with this stubborn weariness that -- if he's being honest with himself -- is not going anywhere.