When Ryan Bingham released his first album, Mescalito, at the age of 26, he already sang with the grizzled grit of someone twice his age. He’d spent the previous decade living in his truck, competing in a string of southwestern rodeos to help pay for gas. His parents were alcoholics. His friends were bull-riders. The whole thing sounded like a country song, which was one of the reasons Bingham’s biographical songs — which hitched themselves to mid-tempo grooves on Mescalito, then rocketed their way toward roadhouse-worthy rock & roll territory on his second release, Roadhouse Sun — packed such a natural, nuanced punch. He wasn’t some suburban kid dressed up in outlaw threads. Dude was the real deal.
Years later, Bingham — now a Grammy and Oscar-winning, thirty-something adult, with four studio albums and the critically adored Crazy Heart soundtrack under his belt — is prepping another release. Fear and Saturday Night hits stores on January 20, 2015. Bingham wrote most of the album’s 12 tracks alone in an airstream trailer, parked in the mountains of California without electricity or cell phones. The seclusion gave him creative clarity that resulted in songs inspired by an unstable childhood, and by the deaths of his mother to alcoholism and father to suicide.
Bingham recorded most of the album live, with a brand new band whose lineup includes two members of the blues-rock outfit Rose Hill Drive. Jim Scott, who engineered Tom Petty’s Wildflowers and co-produced Wilco’s Wilco (The Album), produced the sessions.
On the album’s kickoff single, “Broken Heart Tattoos,” Bingham imagines himself as a parent, giving advice to an unborn child while an electric guitar and lonely harmonica waltz in the background. The rest of the tracklist is below.
Ryan Bingham, Fear and Saturday Night tracklist:
1. “Nobody Knows My Trouble”
2. “Broken Heart Tattoos”
3. “Top Shelf Drug”
4. “Island in the Sky”
5. “Adventures of You and Me”
6. “Fear and Saturday Night”
7. “My Diamond Is Too Rough”
9. “Snow Falls in June”
11. “Hands of Time”
12. “Gun Fightin Man”