Junky Star & the Dead Horses

On his own albums and his contributions to Crazy Heart, Ryan Bingham has tried hard to be the next great Texas singer-songwriter: He has the gruff voice, moodiness and melodramatic song titles ("The Poet," "Junky Star"). But on his third disc, his lyrics come off as more cinematic than believable; the title track finds him "sleeping on the Santa Monica pier with the junkies and the stars." There are more interesting moments (the harmonica-driven "The Wandering"), but little of the depth of emotion or eye for detail you get from, say, fellow Texan Billy Joe Shaver.

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