Saturday, September 27, 2008

KATE CAMPBELL --The Star Keeps Rising

I guess it was back in the late '90s when I first met Kate Campbell when I met her a New Jersey hotel for an interview. Her CD "Visions of Plenty" had just come out and it just blew me away. After viewing the cover of the CD I admit to trepidation because of all the tattoos on her hands---which she explained were just Red Henna.

We talked, then, of her southern roots and all the wonderful songs she had been composing about southern history and also how she had taught that for a time as well---at a college. Up to this point, if my count is correct, she has released 10 albums. She now gives us the 11th. It is another brilliant piece of work with some of the "greats" in this genre joining her. Among them---Nanci Griffith, John Prine,Pierce Pettis, Tom Kimmel and more.

Let's talk of this CD in a moment. A reminiscence, if you will, of her earlier work. From the recordings of Visions of Plenty, Moonpie Dreams, Monuments, and more her work has always changed---I won't say evolved. It is not better it is always excellent and different. Unlike, say, some novelists who write, basically, the same story she always offers us new insights and totally different thoughts and words. She knows how to paint word pictures ever so well--from things like Bus 109 and Funeral Food (Visions of Plenty) to a moving tale of a man who purchased Joe Louis' Furniture (Monuments). From religiosity in "For The Living of These Days" and "Wandering Strange" to the joyful "Twang on A Wire" (my own opinion---her composition was the best on that disc)

The latest CD--Save The Day--is a piece of work to be savored for every individual track on it along with the insights and stories they offer. The booklet gives some insights into what her inspirations were for the songs she has composed; and I am still amazed at the volume of songs she has composed since the time I met her and before. Volumes of songs and not just quantity---quality.

From her opening track on this CD--Save the Day to the very last one Sorrowfree there is not a moment that one is not hooked on each piece and the story it tells. How many people knew of Henry Ford's strange vision of a city in South America to supply rubber for his cars--Fordlandia-- explains it all. The duet with John Prine--Looking For Jesus--is written (co-written w/ Walt Aldridge) is a true winner right up the alley of John Prine fans--of which I am one. Whereas, he writes simple lines that make a subtle point Kate writes longer lines that paint a great word picture. On the order of looking at a Matisse or a Monet and always seeing something new in there.

I will surely be featuring her newest work the next time I get to haunt you on TRADITIONS (10/5) but in the meantime you might want to visit her website and see about getting this recording---you really do need a Kate Campbell collection to go with the collections you may already have. Think about this---different genres of music have different stellar artists. In the classics one has to always think of Bernstein---or Lenny. Well, in this genre---let's call her Kate.

The website for Kate: . Pretty original--right?

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