Scott H. Biram Roars on New Disc

Posted by Greg on Feb 26, 2017 in Music |

Anyone who has been following the career of Austin singer/songwriter Scott H. Biram knows he’s never been one to shy away from songs about faith. Additionally, he’s never been one for hired studio hands either. So it is no surprise, that his latest, The Bad Testament (Bloodshot Records), released this past Friday, features more songs about faith and very few, if any, studio hands.

The album opens with the rambling gospel blues effort “Set Me Free,” which bristles with tinges of punk, folk and rockabilly. Though it’s a bit of a ho-hum opener, the album awakens on “Still Around,” a weary but hopeful paean to resiliency and optimism. Nearly perfect from the opening note, “Still Around” is fantastic and first-rate and proves that ten albums in, Biram is as engaged as ever. That winning streak continues on the outlaw country effort “Red Wine,” a timeless and rousing bar song that would make Merle Haggard proud. “Red Wine” is also BIram at his most soulful and is arguably’s the album’s best vocal effort. Always a fan of rambling cow-punk, Biram roars on the raggedy and tenacious “TrainWrecker,” a brash and brawny cut that seems tailor made for the open highway. Though it’s arguably one of The Bad Testament’s leaner efforts, it proves that at age 42, Biram is not content to slow down and settle for balladry.

The album reaches its zenith on “Long Old Time,” a harmonica-drenched foot-stomper evocative of Johnny Cash. A swampy, sultry prison song “Long Old Time,” is easily one of the best songs released this year and Biram at his absolute best. Of all the songs on The Bad Testament, “Long Old Time” is the one that begs you to press repeat long after the final seconds. For all its winning moments, The Bad Testament does have its flops. Foremost of those is “Swift Drifting’” a jaunty and sprite bare-bones back porch song that never really goes anywhere or says all that much. Thankfully, Biram recovers on “Righteous Ways,” a spartan and simple effort, that ultimately sounds like a tender prayer of confession. The gospel blues of “Crippled & Crazy,” is weary and worn, aided by a lilting organ and almost serves as the second part of “Righteous Ways.”

The album’s penultimate offering is “Feel So Wrong” a two-minute frolic in fingerpicking traditional country. Much like “Swift Drifting” and “Trainwrecker” it exists more for the open road or live stage than anywhere else. The Bad Testament closes with “True Religion,” a foot-stomping, a capella gospel effort that enlivens the traditional and takes it even farther. Much like “Long Old Time” it is Biram at his very best. The album concludes with the three song EP Lost in the River, all of which are strong and each one of them reminding us just how potent Biram’s songwriting truly is.

While The Bad Testament is probably not his best work to date, it definitely has its moments. And it is in those halcyon moments that one is thankful that Biram is still making music.


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