Peace, Love & BBQ
On her first new studio album in
five years, Austinís Marcia Ball returns with three
of her favorite things. The
pianist/vocalist/songwriter has been delivering her
signature brand of Texas blues, New Orleans R&B,
roots rock, and Gulf Coast swamp pop for more than
The core six-piece band is kickiní and the
15 guests are fantastic. Listen to their compelling
interplay on "Watermelon Time." Throughout, they do
not frustrate the listener with extended solos, but
rather they pay strict attention to the songs as a
whole, while Ballís piano is superb.
More than half of the songs are Ball originals. From
the get go, an impression of the Gulf Coast is
established thanks to contributions by Dr. John,
Terrance Simien, and Wayne Toups. "Party Town"
contains Ballís trademark happy sound, which makes
you feel good instantaneously. Youíll especially
love the delightful rubboard and the jubilant L.A.
Horns. Hopefully, the song will alleviate Hurricane
Katrinaís pain, even if only for a moment, for
residents of New Orleans.
You wonít be able to
resist getting up and joining the barn dance called
"Married Life." It realistically depicts matrimony,
and its contented melody features the burning slide
guitar of Cindy Cashdollar. In lyrics like ďSure
miss liviní that life of easeĒ, the title track
depicts fun memories of family cookouts. With a
touch of voodoo, "Miracle In Knoxville" is a bit
eerie. Musically, the song is in the vein of Otis
Taylor but unlike Taylor, the lyrics are not dark.
Here, exceptional performances are delivered by Ball
(accordion) and Stephen Bruton (mandolin). Quite
possibly, "Down In The Neighborhood" contains the best
arrangement on the album. It is very lively and
reflects all aspects of Ballís Texas and Louisiana
There are several beautiful ballads. The
motivational "Where Do You Go?" (co-written by Tracy
Nelson, who also appears on it) provides Ball the
opportunity to competently demonstrate her friendly
vocals and to provide a thought-provoking commentary
on Katrina. The song is all about working hard and
waiting for good things to come. The queen of
ballads and boogies teams with Dr. John on "Iíll
Never Be Free." Sounding better than he has in years,
he plays organ while they both share the vocals.
From soulful ballads to spirited party songs to
sincere storytelling, this eclectic mix of 13 songs
will please most adult palettes and it will spur
them to get up and dance to the music.
who preached about peace, love, and understanding
had it wrong all along. BBQ just might be the third
critical component needed to restore world order. We
all know downhome cookiní brings out the best in
people. All jesting aside, this CDís underlying
message is about determination, persistence, and
faith. On Peace, Love & BBQ, Ball innately possesses
these qualities and instills them in her listeners.
--- Tim Holek