Ben Bullington 

White Sulphur Springs

Ben Bullington is first and foremost a doctor, in the little town of White Sulphur Springs, Mont. Don't be misled, though; he's not one of those strum-my-guitar-on-the-weekend hacks who records tracks in his basement. Recording in Nashville, Bullington can boast having country music greats Rodney Crowell and Tracy Nelson not only as contributors on the album, but as friends and champions as well.

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This album is exactly what a folk-country album should be—straightforward, plaintive and perceptive. Bolstered by sparse instrumentals (provided by a first-rate Nashville session band) Bullington sings about America's working class, waitresses and drifters, but also Montana's wide-open spaces, ranch dogs and the ring around the moon. His startlingly poetic lyrics paint a picture of a man who has "been all over this country"—working an oil field in North Dakota, catching fish in Alaska—but who still "ain't found it yet."

And, while his lyrics might seem like pretty fiction coming from a doctor, they're actually true. Bullington spent years as a wandering laborer before turning to medicine. In one of the best liner note quotes I've seen, Rodney Crowell puts it well: "The guy's a pretty damn good doctor for a songwriter."

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