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Kate Campbell - Save the Day

Save the Day

Kate Campbell

Large River Music - LR 4106

Available from Kate Campbell's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I was more than a little surprised to hear Kate Campbell's new CD open with a song George Harrison would've loved to claim for his own. Few take heed of Harrison, and I can't think of a single female composer who's emulated him at all. Slotting that title tune right at the opening was a wise idea, as she follows it with a John Hartford-ish Welcome to Ray, taking a left turn perfectly balanced, Carl Jones' banjo centering everything.

Campbell has earned the respect of heavy-hitters John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Mac McAnally, Spooner Oldham, and Pierce Pettis, all of whom appear here, backing her folk-country strains. Not hard to figure out why, as there's a purity and simplicity not easily had elsewhere. Campbell bases much of her lyrics in writers Harper Lee, Joan Didion, Eudora Welty, Thomas Merton, and other estimables, but her music is quite Hemingway-esque, unencumbered by over-elaboration or mega-production, laying back in warm but spacious wheatfields, billowing skies opening above, slow plains breezes counterpointing their celestial cousins below.

Then there's the Joni Mitchell-ish Color of Love bringing back the 70s and the superb Looking for Jesus, a great addition to the modern rethinking of the Christ's example and his followers' complete failure to comprehend it. Saint John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila help inform Campbell's spirituality, as does the previously mentioned Merton, resulting in the gently biting:

Well, I heard about a man who saw his face
One morning at breakfast in a bowl of cornflakes
Sold it to another soul on e-bay
Looking for Jesus

There's a picture of the Shepherd hanging there
And all the people who came for prayer
Wore the paint right off his hair
Looking for Jesus.

Witty gal. I detect a bit of Thomas a Kempis as well, but then there's the futurist side:

Oh, it's time to go back to the moon
I think we left there too soon
I can take off in June
It's time to go back to the moon.

The title, of course, is "Back to the Moon" and it recalls Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends in its easy-goingly deceptive depths. In fact, because Sidewalk goes over so well with students, I'm going to start using Back to the Moon in their poetry interpretation lessons.

Save the Day is a disc for those who have been searching for the crossroads between the folk and country genres, for the meeting place that was lost as the 80s drowned everything in punk. Kate Campbell joins Joni, Joan, and Judy…and not a moment too soon. However, glance at the writing credits below and you'll notice that producer / co-engineer Walt Aldridge heavily influences her work, so accolades go out to him as well…and if that's his voice duetting with her on Looking for Jesus, yow!

Track List:

  • Save the Day (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Welcome to Ray (Campbell / Jones)
  • Fordlandia (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Dark Night of the Soul (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Color of Love (Kate Campbell)
  • More than One More Day (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Looking for Jesus (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Back to the Moon (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Falling Out of Heaven (Campbell / Aldridge)
  • Everybody Knows Elvis (Campbell / Narmore)
  • Shining Like the Sun (Campbell / Gordon)
  • Sorrowfree (Kate Campbell)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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