Michael Ballew - Through Thick & Thin
Cult Texas music legend Michael Ballew sings and writes timeless music that will please the yearning ear of today, while transporting many back to the days of hayrides, drive-in movies and huddling around the radio listening to the Grand Ole Opry. It’s the kind of music that you’d want to play on a jukebox in a bar, if bars still had jukeboxes. Today some might call it ‘Americana,’ but Michael and his Damn Good Country Band were living and breathing this elixir 30 years before that term was turned into a radio format. From the very first track, Merlene, a modern-day rodeo song, his words will have you hooked on the entire album. The studio band, a mix of his road band and such legendary Texas musicians as Rick Dryden, Floyd Domino, Don Sowersby, Lynn Daniel, Don Raby, Don Wickham and Kenny Grimes, is a combo of supremely talented and empathetic musicians, fully committed to Ballew’s vision.
A diverse mix of back porch country, barroom weepers, clapboard ranch songs, toe-tapping western swing and dusty blues, there's always a sweet melody, a turn of phrase wrapped in a wink-and-a-smile or an undeniable hook close at hand. Fans of campfire Americana will delight in the fiddle-and-harmonica directness of North Of Amarillo. Ballew’s vocals are sung with matter-of-fact frankness, as if just to lay the words out on the table and let the story do the talking. He is joined by Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson for the dynamic Hot Spot, a good old-fashioned swing tune. Racing Down The Highway is a classic road song; a getaway from all the troubles at home chasing that white line to who knows where … buoyed by chicken pickin’ electric lead, driving pedal steel and harmonica. I Had A Dad could be way too
saccharine-flavoured in a lesser man’s hands, but Michael’s charismatically weathered vocals tell a tale of sweet memories and devotion that we can all connect with.
Full of unhinged romantic patriotism and sentimentality which runs right across this record like a herd of stampeding mustangs, THROUGH THICK & THIN is an auditory shot in the arm from this veteran touring songwriter and honky-tonk bandleader. An excellent and original album that is sure to be met with approval from dyed-in-the-wool hard-core traditional country fans, this is country music that is as classic as grits… bringing fond memories of those country songs that play on those diner
jukeboxes you see in old movies. It’s all so authentic, organic, acoustic, sprightly, lively, lyrically profound and catchy that you can’t get these songs out of your head.