Published Feb 22, 2017There's an antediluvian joke about the clichéd subjects of popular roots music, in which a country record is played in reverse: the singer gets his job back, he fixes his car, his wife comes back, etc.
If you played veteran Austin songwriter Scott H. Biram's new album The Bad Testament backwards, you'd get much the same; each song adheres so strongly to an outlaw country stereotype that it lifts itself out of the realm of cliché and into that of meta-craft.
"Red Wine" is the kind of drinking song that could've been written any time in the last 45 years, and yet Biram manages a whole new set of lyrics and sentiments for his unrepentant barfly narrator, while the hand-claps-and-finger-snaps gospel breakdown "True Religion" could have been ripped from any mid-century song-catcher's tapes. Each song on The Bad Testament sounds old, yet somehow unfamiliar, a portrait of the outlaw country bad boy as an old man.
That said, perhaps it's the accidental timing of this release, but it seems like just being a "bad boy" isn't enough for satisfying American country punk at this point in history. So much rebellion in one package without a gram of actual politics may find itself sounding rather dated in the coming months. (Bloodshot)