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ALBUM REVIEW: Ryan Bingham – American Love Song


Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl Australia

Ryan Bingham cut his teeth as a rodeo rider, he’s an actor, but most importantly he’s an accomplished singer-songwriter. On his sixth album he’s corralled his most wide reaching and rewarding collection of songs to date. 

Across 15 songs, Bingham paints portraits of the American dream, its heartache and its nightmares. He does it all with that parched and raw rasp of a voice that gives his songs grit and grain, the perfect accompaniment to the stories on American Love Song.

Bingham’s approach to the longer form album succeeds so well because he doesn’t stick to one stylistic template. The songs shift gears and musical landscapes based on the required mood and subject matter. ‘Situation Station’ is a wonderful sway and swing of a song with an effortless and bittersweet alt-country shimmer, opener ‘Jingle And Go’ stomps and struts like a celebratory night out, ‘Time For Mind’ has a New Mexico folk vibe, ‘Pontiac’ could be ZZ Top jamming with T-Rex and ‘Lover Girl’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a mid-period Wilco record.

Country music is at the root of all that Bingham does but he stretches into blues and gospel with ‘Blue’ ‘Got Damn Blues’ and ‘Hot House’. They verge on pastiche but with the voice he possesses he can pull off songs like that, investing just the right amount of grease and sweat into their sound. 

These aren’t all songs of heartache and societal struggle, Bingham doesn’t shy from taking a pointed swing at the current political climate, singing “America, unload that gun, save a daughter, save a son, our bullets dress them up in blood” and “This world is causing trouble, people judging colours of skin, people taking children from their kin”.

This album is as the title says, an American love song, but when you love someone you have to deal with both their beauty and their failings. Bingham does just that, with a poetic grace, freewheeling musicality and that magnificent voice.

Chris Familton

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