[21 February 2008]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Vancouver based Ridley Bent is a bona fide national treasure. His 2005 debut Blam joined the likes of Buck 65’s Talkin’ Honkey Blues as one of the rare shining examples of functioning hick-hop, the unimaginable bastard child of hip-hop beats and country twang. Gripping such an unusual fusion by the balls for an introduction was a gutsy move on Bent’s behalf, especially in light of his sophomore album. Buckles & Boots is a wonderfully recorded, pure country affair, but not that milky retard Garth Brooks party wank caricature of country that poisons CMT. Bent has a knack for developing compelling stories with fleshed out characters drawn from real life and when he parties, it’s far less obnoxious.
“Nine Inch Nails” is positively awe-inspiring as he bases a tale of a brutally failed relationship around records they mixed up while stoned (she has all his blue country, he has her Tool and Soundgarden). He’s the only country singer I’ve heard in the past 20 years outside of Willy Nelson to sing about smoking pot and getting high on rails. Only “Apache Hairlifter” remembers his rap leanings with a piano and fiddle led beat and a captivating narrative about Ridley’s gun slinging cowhand granddaddy Lucky and his chance meeting with an escaped Apache prisoner (Ridley’s granny). It’s as riveting as it is transcendent. I mean, I’m a guy with a general hatred for most things that currently pass for country and I find Buckles & Boots totally compelling, on par with Blanche. He’s got the goods.