Ethan Ballinger has made a name for himself in Nashville as a well respected guitar player, mandolin player, and producer. At the same time, he has continued to forge a unique and awesomely confusing solo career. His first two albums hardly seemed like they were created by the same brain, and his new album, “Tennessee Spring”, seems to be a coalition of everything he’s done before while taking a completely new and exciting direction.
“I wanted this album to be more of an experience, like a mini epic,” says Ballinger, who wrote, recorded, produced, performed, and mixed everything on the album except for drums, performed by longtime collaborator Lee Holland. “Hopefully this album will be unpredictable, and take the listener to places that my previous albums haven’t.”
There are indeed many unexpected twists and turns and ideas packed into each song that make the album feel like a journey, aesthetically and emotionally. Ranging from dreamy eastern inflected folk to bombastic psychedelic rock, “Tennessee Spring” is a sonically immersive album, and also a personal one.
“Lyrically there are some very personal things going on in the songs, but not in such a direct way. It’s loosely based on a specific period of my life and what Spring in Tennessee kind of represented, stretching back to my family’s roots and my childhood up through early adult life. Musically I wanted it to reflect the extremes of Spring, the beauty and the destruction.”
It seems like he could go anywhere from here, and while he continues to tour and record with other artists prolifically (playing with renowned artists such as country legend Lee Ann Womack and Tim O’Brien), his own music seems to be becoming more of a priority, which promises to continue to bring surprises and rich, rewarding listens.