Nothing But Blood comes across almost like a concept album with its meditation on the nature of good and evil. “Slow and Easy” sets the scene, giving us the background of our narrator in an intriguing opening ballad. “Alcohol Blues” accelerates the traditional twelve bar blues formula straight into the middle of a drunken fugue. An arrangement of the traditional “On Top of Old Smokey,” here titled “I’m Troubled,” offers insight into the loves and losses the albums protagonist is running from. “Only Whiskey” finds his own drunk getting nasty and bitter, almost mocking anyone who dreams of getting closer than the bottle. When Biram gets down into the guts of a hard knocks drinking song he leaves little room for hope. There are no cute quips or poetic metaphors to lighten the horrors, just a stark reminder of why the bottom of a barrel of whiskey is called the devil’s cut. “Gotta Get To Heaven” serves as a dark and driving reminder that every sinner longs to get saved. Towards that end Biram offers up a trilogy of hymns to close the album. He does a howling rendition of "Amazing Grace" backed by more rain than Texas has seen in the better more than three years. “When I Die” follows with the kind of traditional picking that makes it feel right at home among the traditional hymns. The final finds Biram pulls off his best Tom Waits for “John the Revelator.”
Scott H. Biram is one of few people who can lay claim to being one of the founders of the new Country/Blues/Punk sound. It makes sense that he feels at home there, although it does make his albums feel a little too comfortable. Nothing But Blood saves itself with the fiery intensity of a tent revival and a complicated look at the nature of good and evil. It is a raw album, fiercely unpolished, though oddly heavy on production. And it is the production that gets in the way. On an album as emotionally raw and honest in its storytelling, the vocal tricks come across as distracting overkill. Despite these flaws, however, Nothing but Blood remains a remarkable chapter in Biram’s already strong cannon.