Tyson Ballew created two albums under the moniker Old Shoes, but Fruit Trees for Cass-owaries—released under his name—has all the attributes a first solo album should have: passionate music, unashamedly autobiographical lyrics and room to grow.
Instrumental flourishes, including synthesized xylophones, accordions, and a toy piano, all lend a fresh, optimistic tone to the effort. The upbeat attitude is mirrored in Ballew’s earnest lyrics, which, despite some bleak moments, are mostly honest and hopeful. “Things Are Different Now” contains the line “I still believe in the songs we’d sing…There’s still time, we can change this world. At least we can change ourselves.” And with a voice reminiscent of both Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and the Fruit Bat’s Eric Johnson, Ballew admits the ironic truth that “Everyone inspires me except for maybe those rock stars, ’cause they are selling sadness and apathy.” This indictment of the modern music machine fits perfectly with songs advocating for small-town punk teens in “Electric City Hardcore” and lonely lovers in “Bumble Bee.”
Ballew exudes hopeless romanticism, an endearing quality that will hopefully continue to flavor his future music.
Tyson Ballew plays his CD release show at the Palace Lounge Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 9 PM with Secret Powers, Rooster Sauce and Deny the Dinosaur?. $3.