John Mayer moved to the Paradise Valley thinking he could get some Montana dirt on his hands and sell records for it. What he provides is a forged signature when you compare it to the homegrown likes of Ben Bullington. On his newest album Bullington sings it loud and clear: "We live here to live here, here in Livingston."
The former doctor from Big Timber doesn't fix what isn't broken on his fourth album, Lazy Moon. Simple guitar work and song structures carry his easygoing voice—even on the upbeat "Cup of Strong Black Coffee," Bullington maintains that casual, we've-got-all-day tone. Nearly a dozen collaborators on bass, mandolin and banjo breathe life into the poetry but never overpower. Then there's the reference to actual poetry: "W.H. Auden is lying open face down, a Miles Davis solo is floatin' around," Bullington sings on "Lone Pine."
It might be the lack of percussion that makes a lot of these songs blur together like so many fields stretching across the Hi-Line. They all become variations on the same theme, which, if you've lived here long enough, you know is the truth about Montana anyway.