David Ball’s music changes as often as his hat. He developed his chops playing jazzy country-folk in Austin with Uncle Walt’s Band (with Champ Hood and Walter Hyatt) before making the move to Nashville. He struck double-platinum with the catchy, commercial “Thinkin’ Problem” but then got mired in modern countrypolitan.
Heartaches By The Number, Ball’s first disc for Shanachie, isn’t as slick as his last few discs; he pays homage to vintage country, as tipped off by the title tune. His arching voice shows new maturity, an aspect entirely suitable on “Faded Love”, “Stop The World And Let Me Off”, and a fine version of the buckle-rubber “What’s Going On In Your World”. Ball also does justice to ageless numbers such as “Half as Much”, “There Stands The Glass” and “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down”.
He also takes a huge chance here by covering Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”. You hold your breath hoping he doesn’t break such a fragile song; somehow, perhaps because of what he’s already built up with the other songs, he makes it through.