Credit Jason Ringenberg for being among the first true Americana insurgents, an artist whose sardonic attitude made him the epitome of a hip hillbilly, one whose reverence for country tradition was tempered by a decidedly bent irreverence. That was immediately evident in his initial role at the helm of Jason and the Scorchers, but with occasional detours into children's albums, he might have created the mistaken impression that he had tempered his approach to a significant degree. That misconception is easily laid to rest with Rhinestoned. Ringenberg’s bold new album, and, it’s fair to say his best in recent memory. In it, he offers an unvarnished look at the contradictions of American history and its obvious injustice, standing with those who were given short shrift in the process. "The Freedom Rides Weren't Free" and I Rode With Crazy Horse" offer two of the more obvious examples. So too, his revved-up take on tradition -- an arched version of the Carter family's hallowed standard "The Storms Are on the Ocean, a revved-up gospel gangbanger "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and a reprise of Hank William's' well-trod standard 'You Win Again" all provide a worthy testament to both his creativity and conviction.
by Lee Zimmerman