With his 2007 debut, singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham joins legions of young country artists in affecting an outlaw persona. But with Bingham there's a difference: he actually seems authentic. Although a tender 25 at the time he released MECSALITO, Bingham had been living on the road since his mid-teens, working the rodeo, and gathering hard luck stories. That experience is reflected in Bingham's surprisingly intimate, powerful songs; his textured, grit-flecked voice; and his penchant for mixing rock, folk, hard country, and Mexican flavors. The result is a first effort that stands out from the pack.