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Ballard moves in right direction

House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., April 5, 2017

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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Toward the end of the night, Frankie Ballard appropriately covered Bob Segar's "You'll Accompany Me." Both men are Michigan natives, and Ballard's brand of country music is as inspired by Midwestern bar band sounds, as it's influenced by Nashville.

Ballard likes to make his electric guitar ring, just as much as he enjoys singing and he had this mid-week audience dancing and singing along a lot. At times, as with "El Camino," he and band sounded a little like ZZ Top - in all the best possible ways. His best live performance, which also matched his best recorded moment, came with the sincerely moving "Helluva Life." This slice of life song resonated far more than his overblown Elvis cover of "Hound Dog," which appeared more like showing off. And while he may like California girls, but his "L.A. Woman" (not the Doors song) was just a little too cliché-filed.

Ballard mainly played electric guitar, but switched to an acoustic for "It All Started with A Beer," which he dedicated to all those in the audience that had fallen in love or were looking to find love. He ended his regular set with "Sunshine & Whiskey," his biggest hit and one that seemingly had everybody in to house helping him out vocally.

Ballard's both a fine guitarist and singer, but he's going to need a few more memorable songs to take his concerts to the next level. Compared to Eric Church, who came through town just a few nights' prior, Ballard only has a few stellar songs, but a whole lot of filler. Church, on the other hand, could have satisfied his audience with just album cuts. Or so it seemed. Ballard's moving in the right direction, but he still has work to do to get there.