Ted Russell Kamp mixes up roots, country, and southern rock to come up with a sound that's immediately radio friendly, at times anthemic but always hedgerowed with magnolias, whiskey, lament, and more than a few knowing and weary smiles. Poor Man's Paradise features an array of players, but the bottom line-up is a quartet: him on damn near any instrument he can get his hands on (guitars, horns, keyboards, percussion), Eric Heywood on pedal steel, Jason Sutter on drums, and Brian Whelen behind the keyboards. When it comes to horn sections, Kamp's a one-man back-up unit in a righteously boozy trumpet and trombone brass section. In fact, it was Let the Rain Fall Down that really caught me, a moody retrospective.
In a lot of ways, you might think of Kamp as a Bob Seger cut with Ronnie Wood, adding a side of Memphis, a touch of Billy Squier, Steve Gibbons, some Ry Cooder, and a whole dogwood forest full of hound dogs and armadillos. Long Distance Man bounces and lopes with the old story of the rambling loner forever on the move, hunting down lissome delectables for an evening of sweet diversion before hitting the road again the next morning. For this and other down-to-earth virtues, Europe, ever hungry for quality American refrains, has taken to Kamp with open arms, and he spent the last part of 2008 there before hitting the West U.S. again, playing L.A., Luckenback, and elsewhere.
I also find elements of Bobby Whitlock sprinkled throughout the cuts here, as Whitlock covered a corner of the country rock genre that few ever managed to emulate. Most of the Poor Man's Paradise was recorded in Kamp's living room (!) and this may account for the warmer more informal sound—in any event, it's a good documentation, well layered, friendly, and loose while spot-on. For my money, show clowns like Mellencamp the door, usher in Kamp and his boys, and let's get down to it!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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