“It Don’t Take Much” is a brooding, building story country/rocker while “Tell Me You Get Lonely,” Ballard’s first Top 30 hit and only song to appear on BOTH recordings in his catalog, is mid-tempo fare with a nice groove to it. “Helluva Life” was a smart choice as a single as it showcases everything that’s right about country music with Frankie Ballard’s strong guitar-laced story telling and while it’s out in a ‘bro-country’ era, the song and particularly Frankie Ballard really doesn’t feel like the same kind of style. Case in point is “Drinky Drink,” a song which may have a theme that is like that of the “BC” rise but there’s no overriding electronic loops or other trend chasing sounds, instead it’s harmonica and banjo-based groove is accentuated by Ballard’s country/rock strut. Also different is a revival of the strong traditional ballad “Don’t Tell Mama I Was Drinking,” a song which was often recorded in the 1990s and showcases the kind of ear Ballard has for great songs, even when he knows it’s never gonna be a single. The song is completely re-worked to suit Frankie’s style of Country music (it’s not the weeping story song it used to be) but the story is never lost through the song’s modernization or better yet, this Frankieized version.
“I’m Thinking Country” has a fantastic groove to it as does the mid-tempo “Tip Jar,” although it’s not the all-out rocker you’d expect the song to be given its tittle. These songs all showcase different depths of the artistry present on Frankie Ballard’s fantastic sophomore release (which, lets be honest, will be the first introduction to his music for most fans thanks to his breakout success of “Helluva Life”). Sunshine & Whiskey is a well-produced (by Marshall Altman), performed and thought-out album. It’s Frankie Ballard down to a T. He has the ability to carve out a niche all of his own in Country Music and really has done that with this record. If you love some great Country/Rock tunes that actually sound and feel like country songs, go get yourself a copy ofSunshine & Whiskey.