2011-03-25After 15 discs including her solo work and her wildly successful trio recordings with Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton (Dreams Come True) and Tracy Nelson and Irma Thomas (Sing It) Marcia Ball has reached the point in her career where she could make a decent living by just hitting the festival circuit with her greatest hits in tow. Instead, she’s writing and recording some of the best material in her career. This disc features 12 cuts that are all self-penned with the exception of a quartet of tunes she co-wrote with the legendary Dan Penn and producer Gary Nicholson including the soulful duo of "Look before You Leap" and "Believing in Love" and the house party anthem "The Party’s Still Going On". While there are ample doses of Ball’s signature piano driven dance floor numbers, "We Fell Hard" and "Sugar Boogie" she also turns reflective on "This Used to Be Paradise" where she recounts her grandfather’s sad review of “progress” brought to the bayou country by the oilmen and weighs in on the universal quest for love, "Everybody’s Looking For the Same Thing". Speaking of love, things go really badly first for Ball, then for her lover, when she listens through a cheap hotel wall and catches him apologizing to his wife for his affair, "I Heard it All". Things are much better for all concerned at her beloved home on "Between Here and Kingdom Come" and on the title cut where she admits that all the kitschy cement dinosaurs, balls of twine and other highlights of the world pale in comparison to getting home to her man. Changing things up a bit, "Mule Headed Man" is a slow blues about a man who’d rather listen to the siren song of the bottle than to reason while "That’s How It Goes" is served up with a gospel fervor and a reminder to treasure each day as it comes. Ball has been so consistently good over her career that it is easy to take her for granted at the end of the year when ranking the best releases. This one deserves being remembered all year long. Smitty
WHITEBOY JAMES AND THE BLUES EXPRESS
JACKIE PAYNE/STEVE EDMONSON BAND
Leap of Faith
CHRISTINE OHLMAN & REBEL MONTEZ
THE DEEP END
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