Oh, how I love the relaxed tone of Ben Bullington’s music, and I am not the only one full of admiration for him, either. Since Texas singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell who guests on one cut, ‘Toe The Line’ playing resophonic guitar and lending superb vocal support to a song could just as easily have written and justifiably been proud of doing so!
Warm, vocally, the playing from Fats Kaplin (pedal steel, violin, mandolin, accordion), George Bradfute (bass, electric guitar, cello) is also wonderful —a doctor of medicine, Montana resident Bullington has one other record to his name, Two Land Highway but this is the one set to elevate his reputation and garner him praise way and above expectation. That is if there is any justice in this world tainted by commercial gain.
His collaboration with blues act, Tracy Nelson ‘I’m A Stranger’ is one of his best. Ms Nelson’s bluesy tones are something I am forever unable to resist; her awesome vocal talent given the opportunity will move you too. Lasting what seems a short seven minutes and possessing hints to the melody of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ it is a five star effort in every department that begs to be played again and again. Joined by the sublime and wonderfully written ‘Born In 55’. Like a good many of his songs it helps if can be heard in silence for the reverie of the lyrics that capture historic moments in time better than a movie cameras to make full impact. Others that come near to the beauty of the above are the wry ‘No Matter How Many Times’, gentle moving, steel guitar warmed observation ‘You Never Had The Kisses’ and on producing a neat, lilting melody —akin to Nanci Griffith’s Blue moon era the peaceful. ‘Ring Around The Moon Tonight’ featuring steel, acoustic guitar and the harmony vocals of Joanne Gardner likewise is of that feel. While ‘Twangy Guitars’ enwraps a good slice of his world (waiting rooms, truck-stop diners, barrooms and views from his Montana home) and finally, there is the title cut ‘White Sulphur Springs’. On which, if you close your eyes his lyrics will take you through the countryside of area rich in character, variation as his lyrics speak of ‘dreams don’t come easy on seven bucks an hour and of how money don’t mean every thing’. Little wonder he has won glowing admiration and backing from one of his heroes, Rodney Crowell (Guy Clark is another and he has learnt much from in the fashion he writes a good narrative)—a man who knows a little about songwriting. Mellow story-ballad ‘Ain’t Found You Yet’ containing a blue collar edge is arguably Ben’s best illustration of his gifted and compelling worth as a descriptive songwriter.