‘The Bloodied Yonder’ by Ben Rogers (Album)
Recriminations, regrets and rebellion abound on this record of classic outlaw country, all washed down with some stirring songwriting
Canadian country singer Ben Rogers describes his new album as being about “the transition from life to death, good to evil, paradise to perdition, and all the lost souls you meet along the way.” It’s a fitting theme, providing the perfect setting for his outlaw outlook to spread its crooked wings.
There are equal amounts of twang and distortion; the typical desperado weighing up his sins against the goodness he feels in his heart. Wanted finds him being chased by everyone, from the police to the mailman, but never the woman he loves. On the riotous Panhandler, he asks for judgement only from God, before turning to drink and drugs on Living Without You. This may be a road well-travelled, but it’s still fertile ground for any serious bad boy.
Occasionally Rogers’ charismatic growl is the vessel for overly crass lyrics. On The More I Learn he sings, “Well my dog took a shit and I went to pick it up / But there was a hole in the bag” – an analogy for picking up life’s broken pieces that nobody really needs to imagine. Mostly, though, his distinctive voice is put to better use, no more so than on closing ballad Darling Please – a heart-breaking end to the record.
Rogers and his band have constructed a universe which feels completely authentic and never affected. Whether on foot-stomping numbers like River or sentimental breakup songs like Goodbye Rosa Lee, you believe everything you’re hearing and, as with the best anti-heroes, you can’t help but live vicariously through his actions.
Verdict: A worthy entry into the outlaw canon