After his Oscar award winning song The Weary Kind from the film Crazy Heart many listeners have wondered if Ryan Bingham would return to that understated and reflective mode that contrasted with the full-on band sound of his live shows and of his last album. For them the good news is that, in part, there are songs here that stand alongside that acclaimed song. The opening Nobody Knows My Trouble has a great mix of acoustic and electric guitar over a subtle brushed rhythm under Bingham’s older than his years seasoned and gritty voice. It's a telling song about a man who carries troubles with him through life. It has an believable autobiographical feel that makes it a great opener and an album highlight. Broken Heart Tattoos continues the theme with another top notch song that speaks of what can lie before you in life and end up marking you.
Things get heavier on Top Shelf Drug a “love is the drug” song that highlights its addictive nature. Islands In The Sky offers hope with a mid tempo song laced with harmonica and features another strong vocal performance. There is a border feel to the accordion-led rocker Adventures Of You And Men, it gives a call out to Flaco Jiminez and the Texas Tornados. it’s a further album highlight and a instant toe-tapper. Next up we’re back in that contemplative mode with the title song. It is a reflection of a life lived as best one can under what would be a set of adverse circumstances. My Diamond Is Too Rough is a fairly self explanatory title for how the world treats and outsider and underdog. It incorporates some subtle organ and maraca playing before the electric guitar cuts an emotive shard into the song.
A in-car radio is causing some static for a man driving to or from his girl in Radio. Next up, Snow Falls In June, seeks solace in love and offers true love if reciprocated. Darlin’ is a pure declaration of love and need. this is again give a soulful underplayed backing, perfectly reflective of the song's mood. Hands Of Time kicks up the dirt again with a Bo Diddley styled beat and a guitar driven lively bedrock. The album’s final track is Gun Fightin’ Man a tale that underlines a “live by the sword die by the sword” ethos of the title. A brooding mid-tempo song it closes what is a powerful and primal album.
Produced by Bingham and Jim Scott it is arguably the best album from Bingham yet. It’s cast of players include guitarists Daniel Sproul and Jedd Hughes and a rhythm section of Nate Barnes and Shawn Davis. By making changes and bring in this new set of players Bingham has found a sound that is both rewarding and relevant. His voice is his own and his songs tell tales of hard worn lives and tainted love.