RUSS BALLARD – It’s Good To Be Here (2020) HQ
Hit maker. Creator of many parts of the soundtrack of our lives. Yes, veteran British singer/songwriter RUSS BALLARD is back with a new album titled “It’s Good To Be Here” – his tenth – and it showcases not only his uncanny way with melody and lyrics, but also his more thoughtful side. Additionally, he performs some of the hits written for other artists such as ‘New York Groove’, ‘Since You Been Gone’ or ‘You Can Do Magic’
If you’ve done any world travelling, out of desire or necessity, you’ll have noticed that there’s always some radio station playing a song written by Russ Ballard.
The Rock cognoscenti will recognise Kiss / Ace Frehley’s globe straddling hits ‘God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You’ and ‘New York Groove’; Rainbow’s monster classics ‘Since You Been Gone’ and ‘I Surrender’, all as coming from the prolific pen of Ballard.
Apparently he spends many days and hours writing and recording, but this is his first conventional release in 5 years. The album is pure Ballard since the beginning with ‘My Awakening’, an’80s inspired rocker like most the material here.
‘Kickin The Can’ unspool like a smart synthesis of Western rhythms, written to the sound of 21st century popular rock. It’s fabulously 3 dimensional, dazzling us with exotic tones and rhythms, backed up by spine tingling orchestration.
Ballard’s son, Christian produced and mixed the album, and he has the obsessive’s ear for fine textural detail.
Lyrically, songs like ‘Annabel’s Place’ and ‘Wasted’ are provocative looks at Ballard’s past. Powerful images and memorable music, swapping conscience bothering “call and response” vocals with spacey, proggy-pop passages, all giving an epic feel to these clearly personal musings.
But in reality, everything is personal here. Sometimes painfully so, as in the overwhelming sense of loss evoked by ‘Time Machine’. But equally, ‘Tidal Wave’s gorgeous rush of melodic rock optimism, and the more contemplative ‘Colliding’ will have you getting alternately buoyed and enjoyably lost in these songs’ orbiting melodies.
Ballard acknowledges his past songwriting success on the album’s three closers.
He cleverly turns ‘Since You Been Gone’ into an achingly eloquent ballad, sketched around piano and soughing strings, repeating the trick on ‘You Can Do Magic’, creating depth and drama from a resonating piano motif and swaying background vocals.
But it’s ‘New York Groove’ that makes the biggest impression. Here, the silky smooth drift of an acoustic guitar provides all the forward momentum needed by this laid back, loose limbed version.
Ballards in top form in “It’s Good To Be Here”: his songwriting always will be great, but he’s also fine vocally, and he found a great partner in his son producing his new music with detail, clear and pristine.
It’s good to have you here again Russ. GREAT one.
01. My Awakening
02. Time Machine
03. Kickin’ the Can
04. Annabel’s Place
05. Wasted (The Last Ride)
07. Tidal Wave
08. The First Man That Ever Danced
09. The Misunderstood
10. Proud Man
11. New York Groove
12. Since You Been Gone
13. You Can Do Magic