Lyrically alone, Ballance moves from biting wit to bold introspection, from romantic sencerity to impossible hilarity, from philosophical pondering to psychosexuality (and sometimes all within the same song). He presents a 3-D panorama of the human spirit, forged with a songcraft that's as wise as it is wiseass - which is immeasurably refreshing in light of the current climate of empty-headed image monkeys, self-absorbed pain poseurs, and vaguely bemused punk snots. One wonders how long it's been since Rock-n'-Roll sounded this meaningful AND this fun.
This disc never ceases to surprise to listener on a sonic level, either. Longtime fans know that the guy can play his ass off, but are in for a real shock when they discover what a brilliant producer he is. The rampaging drum/bass/guitar format of his breathtaking live shows is all over this album, but now it's augmented with acoustic textures, lush harmonies, percussion, pianos, organs, horns, cellos, harmonicas and, appropriately enough, a bong at the end of "Bongwater Blues".
The first single from the album is actually a double: Play tracks 2 & 3 back to back for the four minute, one-two punch of "Meet Yer Beat/Long Way To Memphis". The joltingly funky and funny "Meet Yer Beat" seamlessly segues into the explosive "Long Way To Memphis", possibly the best song Aerosmith never wrote.
Other triumphs include the majestic power balladry of "Mind's Eye" (track 4), the black hole heavy stomp of "Peppershaker" (track 6), and the achingly orgasmic seduction of "Lisa" (track 10). The album also contains what Ballance calls his "Alcoholic Trilogy": A 3-song account of his true-life story as an addict ("March Of The Pink Elephants", "Bongwater Blues" and "Boat's In A Bottle"), culminating in the passionate telling of the near-death experience that changed his life and got him sober over a decade ago.
The most fascinating thing, however, is how all of Ballance's songs come across as both familiar and fresh at the same time. This guy doesn't re-invent the wheel. . . he just draws from what's best in Rock-n'-Roll, the blues, folk, funk, R & B, and experimental music, and uses it all to tell his own story, armed with what can only be described as one of the best voices in rock today. On the first listen, it's easy to get swept away by the roller-coaster pacing and sheer sonics. By the second listen, it's as if every song is an old friend. By the third listen, it's undeniable: Ballance IS the new Classic Rock.
Each copy is cut using a state-of-the-art glass mastering process for maximum durability and audiophile sound, and includes a 16 page booklet with complete lyrics and liner notes, not to mention a cool bumper sticker. You need this album.
Joel St. Clair,
Check out the artist's website:
1. 8-TRACK (cont'd.)
2. Meet Yer Beat
3. Long Way To Memphis
4. Mind's Eye
5. Up On The River
7. Backdoor Boogie
8. Cat Got'cha Tongue?
9. Been Raining So Long
11. Eatin' The Crow
12. Pot Of Gold
13. March Of The Pink Elephants
14. Bongwater Blues
15. Boat's In A Bottle
16. Hitchin' Thumb