Frankie Ballard released his third solo album, El Rio, back in June and his record company (Warner Nashville) has decided on the second single release from the project. The chosen song is “Cigarette,” which will either be a gutsy or crazy choice depending on your point of view. On the surface, “Cigarette” might appear to be a crazy choice because it will be offensive to many.
The mere suggestion of tobacco related products is a divisive topic. Given what we know about the harmful effects of smoking, that’s understandable. What makes “Cigarette” gusty is the choice to go against the grain and release a song to radio that uses a modern day taboo (a cigarette) as a metaphor for lust. And that, is what’s really at the heart of “Cigarette”: It’s about longing for a person, not a desire to light up.
Edgy, reverb-laden guitars create the backdrop to Frankie’s ragged, hungry voice. The lyrics don’t ever suggest that the listener should take a puff. “Cigarette” narrates the story of a guy so obsessed with another that he wants to become their addiction. That’s a serious craving, folks.
Frankie might feel some push back from those who never get past the title of the song. I would suggest that they give this a closer listen and then think back to that moment in their own life when all they could think about was someone else. That’s what “Cigarette” is all about. The glowing ember isn’t a result of someone lighting up; it’s a result of libido.