David Ball

Warner Bros.

David Ball sure likes his metaphors. In the chart-topping “Thinkin’ Problem”—part love song, part AA sendup—he confesses to being powerless over his need to imbibe recollections of a long-gone gal; in “Look What Followed Me Home,” his honey’s memory is an unwanted dog that foils his attempts at abandonment; and in “Honky Tonk Healin’ ” the local bar is a hospital staffed with “neon nurses” who treat his heart ailment without success. Ball makes the most of country music’s hallowed tradition of self-deprecating humor and smartass puns. Coupled with his old-style country delivery, this lyrical propensity makes Ball sound almost anachronistic among today’s country artists. The George Jones sound-alike’s balladry (“Down at the Bottom of a Broken Heart”) is less effective than his uptempo tunes, but since every single one of Thinkin’ Problem‘s songs is about being dumped, a little variation is probably a good thing.