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Frankie Ballard, ‘Helluva Life’ – Song Review

Helluva Life
Warner Music Nashville

Frankie Ballard has chopped his hair, lost a few pounds (seemingly) and refined his sound to produce ‘Helluva Life,’ a new single from an upcoming album. Natural grit makes a wandering lyric a more emotional experience. It’s a song that attempts to throw its arms around everyone — that’s always a dangerous endeavor.

Ballard’s new cut lacks specificity. It’s difficult to say what the song is about in just a few words, because it toddles in and out of quite a few classifications. Part love song, part open-road anthem, part blue collar tribute … he takes a taste of everything like he’s in line at the Golden Corral.

“Pennies make dimes and dimes make dollars / Dollars buy gas and long-neck bottles / Beer gets the barefoot country girls singing / To a song that’s playing on the radio station / Bad times make the good times better / Look in her eyes and you’re gone forever on a heavenly ride / Yeah it’s a helluva life,” the Michigan-born singer and guitarist sings during the chorus.

Each verse contains two couplets that paint a vivid picture before he answers with the song’s title, as in: “Saturday night and a six pack girl / A big star shining on a small-town world / It’s a helluva life / It’s a helluva life,” and “We all have have faith and we all have hope / But we’re all a little lost in the same damn boat / It’s a helluva life.”

Some Motown soul (Ballard’s from Battle Creek, not Detroit, but it must have made its way over on the Amtrack) closes the new single. The arrangement and the singer’s delivery tie the many elements together. He’s a sincere vocalist who doesn’t try to stretch his capabilities and the blend of steel guitar that pins him down is just perfect. ‘Helluva Life’ is an example of a song that looks like a hot mess on paper, but satisfies on some deeper level coming from stereo speakers.

3.5 Stars

Listen to Frankie Ballard, ‘Helluva Life’

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