Ryan Bingham's music defies classification with folk, blues, country and rock ‘n roll all being part of the recipe. It's authentic, powerful, and the songs are rooted in real life - in survival and sacrifice and, yes, sometimes just having a damn good time. Nobody making music today has a voice like Bingham’s, one that has the worn and weary character of an old fighter more than twice his age but the power of a young man. It’s an intoxicating mixture that reaches new levels on his most recent album American Love Song.
Yes, Ryan Bingham grew up in the South. Texas, mostly. But there wasn’t much in the way of consistency to his upbringing, other than his family’s chronic existence on the wrong side of the tracks. He was born in the small city of Hobbs, New Mexico, hard up against the Texas Panhandle. He grew up in the west Texas oil fields, then spent time as a teenage rodeo cowboy in towns all across the state. Along the way, he absorbed the Cajun culture of western Louisiana, the hardcore hip-hop favored by his Houston friends, and the border songs of the Mexican immigrants. Until he moved to California in 2007, he never lived in any one place for more than two years. It’s this spirit of having done plenty of living early on, that has informed the singer- songwriters world-weary and jagged, weather-beaten vocals.
From the beginning of his recording career, with “Mescalito,” Bingham has defied easy classification. As a rising star, he ranged from Woody Guthrie-style folk songs and Spanish-language balladry to gritty hard rock. It’s all American music; Fittingly, he was honored as the Americana Music Association’s 2010 Artist of the Year.
He’s enjoyed thrilling highs and suffered debilitating lows, sometimes all at once. While his career was taking off – he won both an Oscar and a Grammy for “The Weary Kind,” the theme song he wrote for the film “Crazy Heart” – he was also coping with the tragic deaths of his parents.
The losses put Bingham in a dark tunnel, and it took a while to crawl his way out. With some inner soul-searching, Bingham has come back into the light. “American Love Song,” the third studio album from the Axster-Bingham indie label (after 2012’s “Tomorrowland” and 2015’s “Fear and Saturday Night”, and 2016’s “Ryan Bingham Live”), takes all his influences – both musical and experiential – and unites them in Ryan Bingham’s best, most fully realized record to date.
Bingham is a singer-songwriter, not a product, and his music movingly shows how the overarching theme of the personal and communal American existence can encompass triumph and tragedy from one moment to the next.
Throughout 2020 Bingham spent a lot of time re-connecting with his fans through his daily #StayHome Cantina Sessions. He also completed filming season 4 of the TV series Yellowstone, and started writing music for a new album. Bingham will head back to the studio to record in 2022.