Frankie Ballard recorded his next studio album over 10 days last April, and says the experience was like nothing he's ever been a part of. In fact, it's not clear if many in Nashville would be up for the adventure he and a small team of musicians and technicians embarked on.

After spending time rehearsing in Muscle Shoals, Ala. and then Dallas, Ballard and his team ventured to the Sonic Ranch, a state-of-the-art recording studio on a 25-acre pecan farm in Tornillo, Texas. The ranch was built along the Rio Grande River, he says.

“I could have taken a baseball and thrown it into Mexico," Ballard, a former college baseball player, tells Taste of Country. "We ate great Mexican food and were there for 10 days and made the entire album.”

His engineer turned him on to the idea of recording at Sonic Ranch. The idea was to minimize distractions. In Nashville, musicians work until 5PM and then return home to family life. In Tornillo it was all about the music, and Ballard says he can really hear a difference. Relying on old-school technology (nothing used was made after the 1970s), they cut 14 songs live.

It All Started With a Beer
Warner Music Nashville

“We tried to jam everything we could into one pass, so we’re stepping on pedals, picking up slide guitar and just stomping and just rocking. I think when it hits the radio it will just sound really different.”

"It All Started With a Beer" is the first single. The personal ballad is the most country-sounding song on the album Ballard says. Others are more reflective of his rock and blues influences. Songs like "Cigarette," "Sweet Time In a Real Fast Car" and "Community College" are three he talked about with enthusiasm during the 2015 ACM Awards in Dallas.

“A lot of my rock and roll influences like John Mellencamp and Bob Seger have leaked their way into this album,” he added later.

Expect a "simpler" sound from Ballad, who's riding a stretch of three consecutive No. 1 hits. This year he also opened for Florida Georgia Line on the Anything Goes Tour. Ballard's 2016 tour plans have not been revealed, nor has a release date for the album.

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