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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Americana singer-songwriter, southern girl Kate Campbell has been making records since 1995, and with her as ever surrounded by an accomplished set of musicians still cutting it. Leading the lineup is recording act and producer Will Kimbrough (guitars, bass, mandolin, banjo, mandala, keyboards, percussion, harmony vocals) and he’s joined by Bryan Owings (drums, percussion), Kevin Gordon (guitars; and harmony vocals on The Great Atomic Power), Chris Carmichael (violin, viola, cello), Phil Madeira (accordion) plus Emma McDowell (fiddle on Peace, Precious Peace) and from John Prine’s band, Dave Jacques plays upright bass on The Great Atomic Power and Peace, Precious Peace. While Cambell herself is on acoustic guitar on Peace, Precious Peace, and piano on her version of Peter LaFarge’s Ballad Of Ira Hayes.
Campbell has selected a few covers to go with her own regular fare. Four of which are written with Tom Kimmel, plus two with the often overlooked East Nashville act, Kimbrough. Three of the finest songs without exception are co-writes with Kimmel, title track, heartfelt ode Damn Sure Blue and the lilting Long Slow Train. This as she retraces the history of America’s troubled South (of the early 1960s) and, with another finely spun song containing a strong message When You Come Back Home. More songs from Campbell and her co-writers would, I feel given the album great depth.
As for the covers her impassioned version of the Louvin Brothers’ The Great Atomic Power that’s fast becoming a favourite coupled with Johnny Cash’s Forty Shades Of Green is the pick! To close she has the arguably better Peace, Precious Peace (don’t be surprised if she uses this one to close her live gigs). The basic track was recorded on her I- Phone. While the song learnt from an Stringbean (David Ackerman) record closes the record with much enduring beauty. Then again that should be of no surprise, because of her great connection to the South. Its gospel, blues and country plus literary and history (racial struggles included) are all utilised, as she projects potent rare imagery. When it comes to those who have earned their spurs and given the art more than taken Campbell has to be among the finest exponents.
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