On Ryan Bingham’s third album, he channels storied rockers John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan through his blue-collar imagery and world-weary vocals, while fusing these influences into his own unified voice. Junky Star feels like a lifetime filled with more downs than ups, matched in its emotive power by his harmonica playing — on opener “The Poet” it lends a desolate, heartsick feeling. Bingham excels at the more pensive tunes, but he proves his depth on songs like “Strange Feeling in the Air,” creating a sense of danger in the twang of the steel guitar and his crazed, gritty vocals. Whether he’s confessing his sins (“Junky Star,” “All Choked Up Again”) or professing his love (“Depression,” “Hallelujah”) Bingham couples evocative bursts of imagery with soulful folk-rock to capture the spirit of the south, warts and all.
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