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David Ball

Play – 1999 (Warner)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by David Ball

Listeners may jump to the presumptuous conclusion that since David Ball's new release is not as hardcore honky tonk his debut "Thinkin' Problem" was, than it must be viewed as a backwards misstep for the singer. But why judge an artistic work on what it is not, instead of evaluating it for what it actually is?

Although "Play" throws longtime fans a few musical curves, such as the south of the border twist applied to "Hasta Luego My Love," or the subtle contemplation underpinning "I'm Just A Country Boy," there are still enough barroom weepers, such as "Going Someplace To Forget" and "A Grain Of Salt" to keep even the barstool diehards quenched. Ball calls this one "Play" because he was allowed to have a little fun with it in the studio. Throwaway ditties like "Watching My Baby Not Coming Back" and "For You" serve to reveal the lighter side of Ball. His music is about so much more than just hard livin' and lovin,' you know.

If this proves only one thing, it's that even the most motel-tanned honky tonkers need a little time in the sunshine now and again.