, born on the Texas/Louisiana border, has long been a superb performer, delivering her swampy blend of zydeco, blues, and gritty R&B with all the force of a Saturday night locomotive, and through 12 albums, she has never let that energy go. Roadside Attractions
, her fifth release for Alligator Records, is no exception -- it cooks and rattles and rocks with Ball
's typical joyous energy and powerful piano. None of her many fans will be disappointed by this outing, but it is a little different for Ball
in one respect -- for the first time on one of her albums she has either written or co-written every song on it, and all of them draw on her thousands of hours on the road bringing her infectious brand of swampy boogie to the world. Song after song here roars by in a lightning-soaked tumble of piano-driven words until it feels like her own personal diary of America tumbling past the tour bus window -- and it isn’t all barbecues, picnics, and big concert stages, either. Love is found, lost, and found again out on the road, and Ball
captures the kinetic feel of all of that here, and she’s arguably never sung better, her voice full of the smoke of life on the road. You can tell she loves singing these songs. The opening track, “That’s How It Goes,” stomps with joy right out of the gate, and song after song builds things forward, with Ball
's singing and lyrics on cuts like “Between Here and Kingdom Come” and “Believing in Love” in constant motion. The whole album is full of motion and life, and it’s easily Ball
's best and most personal statement to date. But don’t worry -- she still knows that all paths lead to the dancefloor, and once there, as she sings on the album-closing “The Party’s Still Going On,” you better be ready to dance. This wonderful album will insist on it.