Ryan Bingham’s latest album, “Junky Star,” seems inspired by Jeff Bridges’ “Crazy Heart” character Bad Blake, an alcoholic former country music superstar on his way down and out. Not so, says Bingham, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter responsible for the film’s Golden Globe and Oscar-winning song, “The Weary Kind.” “I was thinking of when you’re looking through a junkyard and among all the trashed cars you find a really special cool car. But I like to leave it vague and open to interpretation,” he explains.
“Junky Star” does have a definable link to “Crazy Heart,” though. The film’s soundtrack producer, the 10-time Grammy-winning T-Bone Burnett, who co-wrote “The Weary Kind,” helmed this set of bristling barroom rock and aching raw ballads. Even so, it was business as usual for Bingham and his band, Dead Horses. “He didn’t tell us to do anything. He just got us all in the studio with all these amazing guitars and cool old amps and we played around, trying different guitar sounds. We tracked the whole record in three days. I don’t want to say it was easy, but it was that smooth.”
Heroes and outlawsLike Bad Blake, Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses’ music is more outlaw country than mainstream Nashville pop.
The more revved-up songs of “Junky Star” sit easily with the likes of the rockabilly-based tunes of early Kings of Leon, before the stylists came on board and cut into their hick charm.
“I could see that,” agrees Bingham, sounding more polite than convinced.
Then there’s his raspy voice, which is as ragged and emphatic as Tom Waits. “I’d be nothing but honored to be mentioned alongside Tom Waits,” he says humbly. “He’s amazing.”
Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses
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