The Deal: Another Texan making more miles than money.
The Good: On the crowded highway of nomadic troubadours, what makes one dude's confessions compelling and another's a pity party often comes down to how they process the endless miles and sparse crowds: Are they perpetual stepping stones, or punch-the-clock facts of life? Nobody's questioning the conviction of Scott H. Biram, who was nearly killed in 2003 when his pickup ran head-on into a semi and he infamously played a gig just weeks later in a wheelchair with IVs hanging from his arms. That rebellious spirit permeates Biram's records, a mix of stomp-box blues, field holler gospel, outlaw country and garage rock performed almost exclusively – like his one-man band live gigs – by the author. Third-shift workers, jilted lovers and inebriates roam these songs, and the best – the lonesome ballad "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue," the baritone guitar-powered "Draggin' Down the Line," and the Skip James-meets-Jack White delta/garage mash-up "Hard Time" – convey real-life gravitas in their unkempt urgency.
The Bad: Rough edges are part of the appeal, but not head-scratchers like the 45rpm-in-a-33rpm-world bridges in "Sinkin' Down," which sound like tape malfunctions. And as legit as Biram's stories read, nobody's going to confuse his verse – "don't give up there's a brand-new horizon/couldn't be any worse than yesterday" – with Dylan's or Van Zandt's. So as the endless miles roll by, the hard times play out, and the empties stack up, you're only human if you miss the sunshine some.
The Verdict: If you like it down and dirty, it likes you.