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Albums Of The Week: Scott H. Biram | The One & Only Scott H. Biram

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Scott H. Biram, a proud Texan raised on the outskirts of Austin, is a maverick in the tradition of Doug Sahm, Roky Erickson and Gibby Haines. Shortly after releasing his third record (2003’s Lo-Fi Mojo), the 28 year old’s life was nearly cut short after a near-fatal head-on collision with a big rig semi. He was still bedridden when he made his Rehabilitation Blues EP, the predecessor to 2005’s The Dirty Old One Man Band.

Flash-forward to 2022. After almost 30 years of tirelessly writing, recording and touring the front and backroads of America as a solo bluesman, collecting a wide array of critical accolades, Biram found himself suddenly stopped cold by the pandemic. Once again, unwilling to allow outsized forces slow him down, he took advantage of the shutdown to write, record and produce nine new songs and two traditional covers for his new album, The One & Only Scott H. Biram, his 13th release.

The music on The One & Only Scott H. Biram has the down home, in-your-face feel that Biram is noted for. No Man’s Land opens with a blues turnaround played on a twanging electric guitar, backed by a stomping bass and drum backbeat. Biram growls out a lyric, describing the hazards of growing up poor in a small Texas town, breathing the fumes from oil wells and brush fires. “I was remembering a bumper sticker I saw as a kid that said, ‘Oil Field Trash and Proud of It!’ My music has a lot of aggression to it. I express myself without holding back. If you mixed Muddy Waters, Bill Monroe, Jerry Reed and Black Flag, you’d have a good idea of my sound. It’s punk, blues, country, metal, bluegrass and dirty.”

The songs on the album deal with mortality, romance, religion, drinking and memories of the past, but it’s difficult to identify an overarching theme. “I studied art in college, so I think of my albums as collages. I grew up playing in punk, metal, blues, country and bluegrass bands, so I throw in a bunch of stuff to see what resonates. I’ll follow a heavy blues tune with a tender love song, just the way life is, no one theme. I’m not tryna write a rock opera. Most of the time, I’m just getting’ shit off my chest.”

Biram’s albums and EPs are a separate entity from the sound he gets on stage. “I have a wall of speakers behind me, a big subwoofer, old beat up hollow-body guitars, harmonicas, and an amplified stomp board to provide a heavy back beat. I sing in several different kinds of voices and my solid sound really fills the room. I don’t use loops but, in the studio, I sometimes overdub bass, guitar, drums, tambourine and percussion. Other times, I dumb it down and just do what I do on stage.”

Biram grew up in San Marcos, Texas. “My dad played sax a little bit around the house. My uncles played guitar together in a band. There were always guitars and pianos around. I messed around with ‘em, but didn’t get serious about playing and songwriting until high school. I sang and wrote lyrics in a punk-metal band. We played in local bars for free beer, and any attention we could get from the local chicks. That was cool enough for us back then.

“My dad turned me on to Doc Watson and Leadbelly early on. I inherited my great-grandfather’s banjo when I was 19, and I started doing solo acoustic shows on the side. All that while I was still rockin’ out in the punk band. Those acoustic shows morphed into a bluegrass band, but I still did solo stuff on the side, stomping my foot on the floor and developing a more aggressive guitar approach. Sometime around 2000, I realized I could consolidate the folk roots with my heavier stuff and offer something that was truly my own. The Scott H. Biram One Man Band was born.”

“I never liked being called a singer-songwriter,” says Biram, “but those are some of my best qualities. I don’t want people to think I’m a ‘fool on a stool,’ which is what I imagine comes into people’s heads when they hear ‘singer-songwriter.’ I try to steer clear of that, when I can.”

With The One & Only Scott H. Biram, the singer once again proves himself to be an unstoppable force, refusing to bow in the face of outside challenges and demonstrating a unique ability to live up to the traditions of rough-hewn, individualistic Texas-born music. He looks forward to returning to tour the highways and byways of America and Europe throughout 2024.”