On his original songs, Scott H. Biram bleeds in two gears–gushing’n’gory as on “Blood, Sweat, & Murder,” or else pricked’n’picked as on “Lost Case of Being Found.” The latter is my particular favorite. The thread of those songs throughout Biram’s career makes good of his progression from spastic punk interpreter to confident storyteller–“Wreck My Car,” “Still Drunk,” I’ll count “Sinking Down,” too. His new album starts with a song in that mode, “Slow & Easy,” which I think is one of his best songs ever. It’s obvious how great he is live, but it doesn’t get noted enough how he’s always been really good in the studio, spanning the spectrum of fidelity–and “Slow & Easy” sounds perfectly lush and muddy at the same time. Despite the True Blood-looking album art, it’s worth a purchase for this song alone. From then on the album mostly alternates between the two types of cuts–vulgar speedmetal that’s done so well for its unflinching lyrical details, but that I will mostly skip over, and the measured slices of David Alan Coe “River”-like staying power. “Nam Weed” is especially great.
If you get the CD or vinyl you’ll get an extra three traditional covers that don’t seem to be on iTunes. Biram’s “Amazing Grace” is one of the most interesting moments on the album–just his vocals and harmonica over a background thunderstorm. I don’t think there’s anything identifiably stunning about it, we’re well aware he’s got soul, but the song’s just really weird and nice in the best way. He can somehow be surprising even with traditionals. He’s a bad-ass motherfucker and I find him more compelling when that fact’s not hitting me over the head like a tire iron his amphetamine songs. You can tell what a bad-ass motherfucker he is when he slows down enough for you to get a look. You’ve seen him at shows–he’s the sweetest fucking person you’ll ever meet. It must be hard to travel the world for over a decade, mostly by your lonesome. His songs are insanely powerful when that comes through in whatever capacity. Honestly, that’s there in all his songs, but I don’t have the patience for the blood and murder anymore. Sweat, though, indicates a struggle, that there’s work being done. And I love Scott H. Biram’s work.