PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Ryan Bingham: Fear and Saturday Night

The candor of Bingham on Bingham reveals an intimate portrait of love and hope on Fear and Saturday Night.

Ryan Bingham

Fear and Saturday Night

Label: Humphead
US Release Date: 2015-01-20
UK Release Date: 2015-01-19
Label website
Artist website

Backtracking from the modicum of fame achieved by the award-winning "The Weary Kind" which helped garner attention for 2010's T-Bone Burnett-produced Junky Star, Ryan Bingham bypassed the machinations of the music industry by releasing 2012's Tomorrowland on his own imprint. Filled with punk rock ire and politically invective lyrics, Bingham, forever a chameleon amongst the sagebrush, has taken on a lighter shade with his latest album, Fear and Saturday Night.

Accounting for the longest span between releases, troubadour Bingham decamped to the California mountains a la peripatetic Beat poet Gary Snyder to disconnect and mine emotions past, present and future for new material. The solitude of Bingham's meditative hermitage bore solemnity on the bulk of songs that comprise Fear and Saturday Night. However, his past backstory remains.

"Well, it didn't take too long / For the pills and the bottom of a bottle / To dig a deep grave with a shovel / And bury every thing that a young boy needs," sings Bingham on waltzing opener "Nobody Knows My Trouble". Recalling his youth and mother's death from alcohol, the catharsis of music has served as a refuge and outlet. Yet, closing bookend "Gun Fightin' Man" offers no absolution for his father's suicide: "Can you understand / How does the Devil and a gun get in a dead man's hand / It's hard to make amends / When he's six foot underneath of no man's land."

For their bleak content and blunt truth, "Nobody Knows My Trouble" and "Gun Fightin' Man" dovetail with the remaining ten songs of Fear and Saturday Night. Not wholly casting off the shroud, the fading daylight of the hungover title track sets the sun on the past, allowing Bingham to call forth new days. The remainder, essentially love songs, reside in the present and contemplate the future as on the sentimental "Snow Falls in June", "Darlin" and the pensive lullaby "Broken Heart Tattoos", a pondering of sage advice to be imparted to future offspring.

Darkness having receded, the unencumbered songs provide a loose mood for Bingham's new backing band. Lacking the urgency of Tomorrowland, bassist Shawn Davis, drummer Nate Barnes and lead guitarist Daniel Sproul bring Bingham's Airstream-penned songs to life without straying far from the sound of his previous outings: "Radio", with its Lynyrd Skynyrd jam, offsets the signal-to-noise imbalance of the song's dread; gnarled roadhouse romp "Top Shelf Drug", the Tejano travelogue of Kerouacian kicks on "Adventures of You and Me" and "Hands of Time" with its clave rhythm all fall within Bingham's classic cadence. Yet it is Bingham's sentimentality that gets in the way lyrically: always plainspoken, lines such as "No matter what I do or say / You're the butter on my bread" on "Top Shelf Drug" and "I'll try to keep myself in line / And feel everything that you know / I'll keep my troubles out of your toes" on "Darlin" feel clumsy. For an artist who has yet to take a misstep, it's easy to chalk up Bingham's intention here to the blindness of dumb love, given the time and oversight invested in this album.

Seemingly at peace and no longer concerned with "rising star" status or meeting corporate expectations, the candor of Bingham on Bingham reveals an intimate portrait of love and hope on Fear and Saturday Night. More morning after than its title implies, Bingham's rawness has been refined ever so slightly, his newfound reserve a therapeutic epiphany.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.