[Album Review] Patrick Ballantyne- Days of Rain
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by Mark Anthony Brennan

Release Date: June 29th, 2014
Label: Independent

Patrick Ballantyne isn’t exactly a household name, but there is a good chance you’ve heard his songs before. Up until recently, Ballantyne’s musical talents have been funneled into writing songs for others, such as Big Sugar and The Trews. However, he makes it abundantly clear on his latest release ‘Days of Rain’ that we have been missing out in not hearing him perform his songs himself.

Not surprisingly, this is a set of strong, well-constructed songs. They reflect upon the impact of personal loss and adversity, but, with a couple of notable exceptions, this is not a mournful record. Quite the contrary, it is more a reaffirmation of the great wonder that is life, even in the face of grief and sorrow. “I roll with it,” sings Ballantyne, even though, “I know a little rain’s gonna fall”.

As you can guess, rain is a central theme on this album, representing life’s more challenging moments. This analogy is most fully realized on “Hundred Year Flood”, an epic work of folk Americana. Ballantyne warns folks to, “pack your things, get running”, because you can’t cling to the riverbank as you have in the past – no, this is the big one, and it’s going to hit you hard. Although he’s from Windsor, Ballantyne evokes the feel of the mid-western prairie on this track as effectively as Springsteen (from New Jersey) did on ‘Nebraska’.

Other highlights include the raga-influenced “Who I Am”, in which Ballantyne sounds like a dead ringer for David Gilmour in making the Zen-like assertion, “It’s who you are/It’s who I am”, and “Wrestling With the Devil”, a Beatlesque tune featuring some beautiful steel guitar.

Aside from drums, Ballantyne plays all the instruments here, which is hard to believe. Although things are understandably tight, there is an organic feel to the composite whole, as if there were other personalities at play. Maybe different facets of Ballantyne’s psyche come to the fore depending on which instrument he is playing? Dunno.

The songs run the gamut from country to blues, and from pop to folk rock. Maybe Ballantyne stretches himself a little thin, genre-wise (“Lift Me Up” and “Christmas Day”, for example, are a tad too MOR), but it doesn’t really matter because it’s all entertaining. There is certainly nothing here to detract from the conclusion that Ballantyne fully deserves to be a performer in his own right.