Nobody should accuse Ball of being a Pollyanna, but this ingratiating album is, by country music standards, positively cheery. While the Ball-Tommy Polk tune "Bad Day for the Blues" is the most optimistic of the lot, also included are such looks at the bright side as "No More Lonely," "Circle of Friends," by Ball and Billy Spencer, "I've Got My Baby on My Mind" and a marvelous tribute to perseverance, "Hangin' In and Hangin' On."
Ball certainly knows about life's difficulties—his 1994 breakthrough album, Thinkin' Problem, didn't come along until he was 38. And like two of his idols, Webb Pierce and George Jones, Ball's achy twang (he hails from South Carolina) makes him a convincingly wizened interpreter of the more common, sorrowful strain of country music. But this album stands as testimony to just how entertaining he can be when he's in a good mood. (Warner Bros.)