In a recent sit-down with Radio.com, Frankie Ballard said “I feel like I grew up in the 50’s.”
He pointed out that he grew up listening to everything from Elvis to Johnny Cash – you can’t help but feel that vibe from Ballard’s new album, El Rio (get it here).
Frankie left Nashville to record the album in Texas alongside the Rio Grande. He told me he wanted to “take the album to the next level – we couldn’t afford for anything to pull on the music.” The entire record was recorded in 10 days, and sticks out in today’s country music landscape in the best way possible.
Ballard “did not want to record Sunshine & Whiskey 2.0″ which is evident in the 11 songs on El Rio. Frankie explained to me that the new record was a “great example of the refined sound. A better sound.” I couldn’t agree more after listening to the album 1-11, again and again. He didn’t go off the deep end creating some strange uber-pop album we’re seeing with a lot of younger male artists. He made an album that was Frankie Ballard on steroids. It’s exactly what you picture him singing and performing on stage. The sound matches his guitar playing, voice, style, and overall sense of music – it’s beyond refreshing and equally as impressive.
Songs like “Cigarette” can surely be big radio hits, but even these are different. They sound so different compared to the other stuff coming out of your speakers today. His hit “It All Started With A Beer” has become a sort of love anthem for people across the world – including me. I told him how my current relationship, one I didn’t think I’d maybe ever experience, is perfectly represented by the song. “That means everything to me – that’s what I love hearing,” he said.
You can put on this album, and just let ‘er go. Don’t skip a song. Each one will bring on a different feel, emotion, memory. There’s no filler, no fluff. It substantial, and loaded with a grittiness that takes over you. El Rio is a perfect representation of an artist evolving, but not conforming.