Bumpkin – Man Outta Me

Man Outta Me

Bumpkin is an artist who’s true to his vision, and if that vision seems blurry, that’s because Bumpkin is very, very drunk. At least that’s what he would have us believe on Man Outta Me, a straightforward album of 12 paint-by-numbers breakup songs, and he’s quite convincing.

There is no indication of what Bumpkin’s real name is, and since I’m a terrible journalist, I still haven’t found it out from any other source. But he recorded Man Outta Me with violist David Dooley accompanying his own guitar and echoing, multi-tracked vocals. The viola is a welcome touch, especially considering that Bumpkin’s technique as a guitarist is limited to nothing more complicated than simple strumming.

Bumpkin reveals himself to be something of a one-trick pony. Each song bemoans the loss of his girl and the gain of his alcohol dependency, as the mood shifts back and forth between wistfully nostalgic and petulantly defiant. The sentiment is so up front and unadorned that lines like, “Pour me another beer, I really want one,” are frankly redundant. You want another beer? You’re kidding!

Then again, there is a long and proud history of Breakup and Booze music in the American songbook. What the dean of that academy, Hank Williams, knew was that the songs had to be good to drink along to. Make them funny or make them swing, but make them something. What Bumpkin has with this record is the outline of a good breakup album. He’s got the themes down, but they’re still a little thin.