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David Ball

Heartaches by the Number – 2007 (Shanachie)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by David Ball

As a songwriter, David Ball has always had a classic style. He builds many of his heartbreak songs - and they're almost all heartbreak songs - around a humorous turn of phrase, but never lets that humor win out over genuine emotions.

Here, he gives up songwriting duties, instead covering classics made famous by the likes of Hank Williams and Webb Pierce. Choosing songs that fit his usual style, he's created an album that feels like a David Ball original - one where you already know all the words.

The only new song, "Please Feed the Jukebox," asks everyone to keep the old songs alive. It's as much a tribute to the golden age of country music as the covers that make up the rest of the track list.

Although there are puns to be found, this album is not all about the humor. Some of the strongest tracks are plaintive, yearning versions of "Faded Love" and the newest old song covered, George Strait's "What's Going on in Your World." Along with traditional vocals, fiddles, steel and acoustic base dominate the sound. The end result is a studio album that sounds almost live and decidedly lively.