Ryan Bingham, 'Roadhouse Sun' (Lost Highway)

Critical Mass
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by David Menconi

Either you buy Ryan Bingham's act or you don't -- 28 going on 58, growling sepia-toned songs in a genre (leather-voiced singer-songwriters, West Texas division) obsessed with "authenticity." But even skeptics should find Bingham's second album, embellished with a bit more pop and politics, a convincing step beyond his promisingly earthy 2007 debut. "Bluebird" chimes like Truth Decay–era T-Bone Burnett, the squalling "Endless Ways" howls against greed that demands "more blood from a foreign land," and "Dylan's Hard Rain" travels a desolate landscape that feels less dated by the minute.

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