It takes a set of cojones for a singer-songwriter to name his latest album “Balls,” especially when that singer is Griffin House, who is best known for love songs and introspection and not joking around.
“Certain people have ideas about what a musician is and isn’t supposed to do,” he says. “If you want people to take you seriously, you’re supposed to create this intrigue, almost not be yourself. And there’s no title that could explain my personality or sense of humor other than ‘Balls.’ ” (Actually, the name comes from his childhood, in a story too convoluted for this article.)
A frequent visitor to SOhO over the years, Mr. House returns this Thursday for an evening of songs from that album, along with other favorites like “Better Than Love,” “Tell Me a Lie,” “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind” and the song that put Mr. House in the homes of America, “Waterfall,” when it was used in an oral hygiene commercial.
“Balls” marked his return to songwriting after a period where he felt he had gone astray. He got caught up chasing that elusive hit and trying to make other people happy, he says. He was also adjusting to married life, having children, and saying goodbye to the single lifestyle that resulted in way too much partying. It’s stopped the drinking, but it’s also slowed the writing, as having two kids leaves less time for creation.
“I made a record every single year from 2003 to 2010,” he says. “but in the last four years I’ve slowed the pace. It’s been good. But I fought it. I’m only just now adjusting to all these changes. I didn’t know getting married was going to change so much.”
“My wife and I got together really fast and we had to make a lot of lifestyle changes.”
But letting go also relaxed him a bit more and, as he says, made his writing better. “I can write from a deeper place instead of what a 20-something would write about. I’ve had to grow and move and expand what I’m capable of articulating.”
The album was a first for Mr. House, being funded by a Kickstarter campaign. One of the prizes he offered for the high funders — $3,500 or more — was a free concert in the donator’s home. Strangely enough, the man has vanished and Mr. House is looking for closure. “It’s not a relief because I don’t know if he’s going to call and cash this thing in. It’s been two years. I want to get it over with!”
Mr. House has lived in Nashville since 2003, although he says he’s still an Ohioan at heart. “It’s getting so busy here, it’s like Portland or Austin here. Fortunately, there’s a lot of bars and restaurants popping up … The ongoing joke in Nashville is that nobody is actually from Nashville originally.”
On “Balls” Mr. House deals with — surprise! — baseball in “Fenway,” war in “Guns, Bombs, and Fortunes of Gold,” and there’s plenty about the struggles of love, like in “Go Thru It” and “The Passage.”
“I used to think that falling in love was like winning the lottery,” he says. “And if you were lucky you’d get the fairytale ending. What I’ve learned is that love is about treating yourself well so that you can treat somebody else really well. How you treat somebody else is how you get treated back. But nobody wants to hear that, really!”
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 1221 State St.
Information: (805) 962-7776, www.sohosb.com