By Jim Poulton
Ever hear of Frankie Ballard? Probably not. It was only three years ago that he won Kenny Chesney’s Next Big Star competition for Michigan, two years ago that he staged his first showcase for record companies (he got a contract with Reprise Records from it), and a year ago that his first song, Tell Me You Get Lonely, was released (it made it to number 33 in the charts in early 2011). This week, he released his first album, Frankie Ballard.
Ballard is a young man from Battle Creek, Michigan (where they make Special K and Rice Krispies) who is definitely making a place for himself in the Country Music scene. This year, he’s going to be the opening act for Taylor Swift’s U.S. tour (hard to get much better than that), and he’ll also tour with the great Bob Segar.
Credit: Great American Country
Ballard’s music is probably best categorized as a country/blues/rock double-crossover. He has the country-boy persona down pat (he can say ‘thang’ with the best of them other sangers), but he also has the instincts of a rocker. His first hit, Tell Me You Get Lonely, is all country, but it also gives you a wall of sound reminiscent of 80s rock, and it even has traces of blues riffs (Ballard says he was influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, B. B. King, Buddy Guy, and Eric Clapton).
Ballard’s blues chops are even more audible in A Buncha Girls. He’s a confident guitarist who does his own leads – and is good enough to deserve to. While the lyrics in A Buncha Girls at first sound a bit sophomoric, they get better midway through:
“They got high-dollar jeans, belly-button rings, pretty pink painted up toes,
They’ll drink your drinks, make you think, you’re their right-now romeo,
They say sha-la-la, hey hey hey with the band and party all night long,
Laugh about it in the morning, lookin’ at all the pictures and blame it on alcohol.”
Check Ballard out at his website here. You can see a different version of A Buncha Girls on his home page, and there is a two-part interview that will introduce him to you. I think you’ll be hearing more from this guy.