David Ball struck gold in 1994 with the hit "Thinkin' Problem" but was inexplicably a casualty of the country airwaves in the genre's downturn since.

David Ball struck gold in 1994 with the hit "Thinkin' Problem" but was inexplicably a casualty of the country airwaves in the genre's downturn since. He resurfaces here on Dualtone with a winning project that capitalizes on his honky-tonk sensibilities. The twin-fiddle title cut is a sweet slice of Texas swing, and Ball waxes Tex-Mex with "Missing Her Blues" and the easy-rollin' "She Always Talks About Mexico." The leadoff single "Riding With Private Malone" is a shuffling story song with a patriotic tint that sounds like a hit in our current environment. Ball ventures into Willie Nelson territory on the wry "Loser Friendly," and he nails the bluesy Merle Haggard cut "Trying Not to Love You," kicks up his boot heels with the "New Shiner Polka" and "Swing Baby," then showcases a mighty fine Lone Star yodel on "Texas Echo." Throw in the waltz "Just Out of Reach" and the back-pew grudge match "When the Devil Wants to Wrestle," and we've got an A-plus project on our hands.—RW

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