Track This: Scott H. Biram's "Go Down Ol' Hannah"

I wasn't originally entirely taken with Scott H. Biram. He wrote quite exceptional country and blues songs that were filtered through a lo-fi vibe that recalled later era Hank the third and Joe Buck. I didn't see the passion and originality at first. Biram is revivalist, but brings real soul and dedication to his bluesy rave-ups. I first heard the song, "Go Down Ol" Hannah" from his 2009 record, Something's Wrong/Lost Forever on shuffle mode. It sounded like a vintage 1930's blues song. I actually asked myself whether it was John Lee Hooker or Lightnin' Hopkins. When I looked and saw that it was Biram I was amazed. Like he was channeling an old blues singer, he gives his all and makes the song sound like an original even though it has really good production for a Biram album as most of them are fairly lo-fi. By the next song, he is as dirty as ever. As a one man band, he not only can bring different styles at a drop of a hat, but is clearly capable of merging into the better side of the singer-songwriter territory. His concerns are simple: women, drinking, booze, graves. This is familiar subject matter that every bluesman and country singer eventually covers. Often now, it is approached in an ironic postmodern manner, but Biram avoids this trap. His songs are humorous without being facetious and he lives and breathes the traveling, lowdown lifestyle through the songs he writes. His music is timeless even when he turns the amp up, turns the mix down low, and brings us into the distant past. He shows that simple human concerns never really change. Like his fellow blues travelers (yes I said it) in the Black Keys, Black Diamond Heavies, or the excellent Left Lane Cruiser, he mercilessly pounds out the blues, but never enters 1970's blues rock territory. He creates a gritty bluesy mix that uses modern production to get to the heart of the matter. The Keys haven't done that since their first album and they were never as authentic; Left Lane Cruiser comes close, but Biram ably transcends time and production through the power of sheer legitimate song-writin’. They don’t make them like this too often anymore.     


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