Scott H. Biram

Nothin' But Blood

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Any album that includes a song about a guy who gets nostalgic about smoking weed during his hitch in Vietnam is clearly aiming to sound hard as nails, and would Scott H. Biram have it any other way? Released in 2014, Nothin' But Blood finds the hard-living and hard-playing one-man band Biram sounding as intense as ever, and the cranked-up hillbilly stomp of "Alcohol Blues," the almost-metal assault of "Around the Bend," and the gritty boogie of "Church Point Girls" confirm he's still got booze, dope, violence, and women on his mind. But Biram also seems to have developed some real concerns about his spiritual well-being; the album's second song, "Gotta Get to Heaven," finds him pondering the consequences of his wicked ways and the high stakes of life in the 21st century, while the woeful country blues of "Never Comin' Home" is a powerful evocation of where the wild life can leave someone. Biram even closes out the album with three gospel tunes, and he manages to make "Amazing Grace," "When I Die," and "John the Revelator" sound just as raw and uncompromised as his own hardscrabble music, albeit while honoring their spiritual message. Given the vehemence with which Biram embraces reckless (and even homicidal) behavior on some of these tunes, his turn toward redemption seems at once fitting and a bit eccentric, as if he's truly struggling with the balance of sin and salvation. But anyone who has been following Scott H. Biram's work has probably figured that he's never worried about pleasing everyone (or anyone besides himself), and the contradictions that are a major part of Nothin' But Blood are just part of the messy way of life he's always sung about, and on this album he continues to make tough, compelling art out of the myriad imbalances of life.

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