It wasn’t that long ago that Butch Baldassari said, “Keep your eyes and ears peeled for him.” Now four years later, after making noise as a producer, composer, and sideman for nationally touring artists, Nashville based musician Ethan Ballinger is making his vocal debut on the music scene with his second album “Don’t Lose It.” The album features nine beautifully dark and personal songs all of which he wrote, recorded and produced in his own home.
Spending his childhood growing up around bluegrass royalty and a musically talented family, Ethan was picking up instruments and playing the toy banjo with Chet Atkins as a toddler.
“I picked up the fiddle when I was really young, but it didn’t quite stick. I also took piano lessons for a few years, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that I discovered the guitar and then the mandolin that I became obsessed,” he said.
As an aspiring and well-versed musician he found himself exploring different styles of music. He spent his time practicing and learning rock, jazz, bluegrass, blues, funk and even electronic.
When Ethan was 15 years old his parents bought him his first recording machine, which he immediately put to use recording his own instrumental music.
“In addition to playing in garage rock bands, I was making albums for myself and friends,” he said. “I spent a lot of time writing and exploring different sounds ranging from ambient to experimental electronic to jazz and bluegrass.”
These home recordings unexpectedly turned into more than just a hobby. Garnering the attention of local television producers, Ethan went on to write, record and produce musical compositions for several nationally aired PBS programs and videos, including the Emmy award winning “Crank: Darkness On The Edge Of Town”. He continues to compose music for videos, shows and other projects.
In 2008, Ethan released his first solo album, “Wish Upon A Falling Star,” which featured 16 original acoustic instrumental songs. Upon its release he received praise for his mandolin work and the album’s eclectic fusion of sounds.
Mandolin Café said, “Ethan’s ‘Wish Upon A Falling Star’ is the most interesting mandolin CD of the year to our ears.” While Jazzmando.com also stated it was one of their “personal favorite recordings last year.” They went on to say; “The amazing acoustic musician [Ethan] has a tremendous ear and a broad harmonic and textural vocabulary in his compositions.”
Spending the last eight years touring as a multi-instrumentalist for different artists, Ethan recently made the giant leap to record and release his first vocal album, “Don’t Lose It”, in the Spring of 2012. The intimate and emotionally urgent songs featured on the album are propelled by a spacious and vibey soundscape, sophisticated melodies and chord changes. These sounds combined with raw garage rock aesthetics are what make the album immediate, yet more rewarding with deeper listening.
Ethan performed every instrument on the album except for drums performed by Lee Holland, and a guest vocal appearance on “I Want You Around” by longtime collaborator Megan McCormick.
Ethan continues to tour and record with other artists, including Missy Raines and the New Hip, Megan McCormick, Alison Brown, Jill Andrews, The Ballinger Family Band, Michaela Wallace, The Danberrys, The Blow Jays, Hot Club Time Machine, and The Gypsy Cowboys, as well as work in the studio as a producer and session player.