Whitney Pastorek
August 26, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

This moody, recession-themed collection from Bingham—who won an Oscar this year for a song from Crazy Heart—is unlikely to boost anyone’s morale during our current downturn, but Junky Star might make some folks feel less alone. And whether backed by simple guitar or a full-band ramble, Bingham’s intricately detailed portraits of the wayward and lost are some of the best short stories you’ll hear all year. A?

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