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Multi-talented performer Ashley Campbell; musician, singer-songwriter and now, after getting a great deal on the road, first off it was playing in her father’s band, the late Glen Campbell. 

After he became too ill to go on the road, Ashley has been turning heads through her own endeavours, and with her forming indie pop-rock in a band formed with her brothers, Cal and Shannon, and then Instant People (indie folk, country) with Shannon; him playing guitar and her, banjo; an instrument on which she excels.   

Her debut album sees a number of sides from Ashley; as her prowess on banjo is backed by excellent lead vocals on the likes of the entertaining “Better Boyfriend”, and on following in the footsteps of the likes of Kacey Musgrave, Brandy Clark and Angaleena Presley you have the jump off the page “Looks Like Time” as Campbell injects healthy slice of humour, and with her showing a little attitude she looks set to be a winner. The well-balanced production has it all. 

The above come after, a tentative opener in Nashville mainstream song ‘A New Year”. While I do say, tentative in all honesty I should have said, cookie cutter style! Campbell is better than this, and goes on to prove on numerous occasions, although it does offer more commercial leaning influences there is a nice twist to the production. Not least due to innovative production and progressive use of banjo. A number of co-writers figure on the record and Campbell shows herself to be set for a fine, and entertaining career in music. Her ability to come up with music sufficiently different is one of the most pleasing aspects about her work.   

Scorching instrumental “Wish I Wanted To” (co-written with her role model, former sideman of her father, Carl Jackson that has Will Carter power forth on dobro and both Jackson and the great Bryan Sutton star on acoustic guitar) and infectious “What I’m Doing Here”, and “Good For You” and on easing into a more tender, wistful groove “Wish I Wanted To” (Campbell- Mike Daily) likewise is superb. The elegance of her vocals and general poise as the production is stripped down to Jackson’s acoustic guitar, harmony vocals and her own playing to go with Carter’s beautiful Dobro as her vocals are warmed by a sound made in heaven! Showing a little more urgency she picks a bluegrass-etched banjo on the spirited “How Do You Know” (written with her brothers, Shannon and Cal, plus Kiefo Nilsson).

Others include the interesting, bass, drums and brass-aided genre crossing “We Can’t Be Friends” and reflective “Nothing Day”; and like one of two songs around she sings about smoking a joint and getting a little too drunk in New Orleans and on the former she doesn’t share a joint with country icon Willie Nelson but one of his sons. 

              Maurice Hope     

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May 2018

John Prine
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