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Album review: Ryan Bingham’s ‘Fear and Saturday Night’

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Ryan Bingham Fear and Saturday Night

Three and a half stars

Although he’s still best known in the mainstream for co-writing the Oscar-winning “The Weary Kind” from 2009’s Crazy Heart, singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham has been releasing the kind of ragged, soul-baring Americana embodied by Crazy Heart protagonist Bad Blake since his 2007 debut. Fear and Saturday Night, Bingham’s fifth album, dials back a bit on the sprawling arrangements of 2012’s Tomorrowland, but it’s still casual and intimate, characterized by Bingham’s raspy voice and deeply personal lyrics. He’s best on the more low-key, understated songs, like opener “Nobody Knows My Trouble” and tender love song “Snow Falls in June,” but he also excels at evoking The Rolling Stones (the fuzzy bar-rock of “Top Shelf Drug”), The Black Crowes (soaring ballad “Island in the Sky”) and even John Mellencamp (accordion-drenched rave-up “Adventures of You and Me”). Like Bad Blake, Bingham is a world-weary journeyman, playing roots music that’s equally comforting and fragile.

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