Craig Campbell: Craig Campbell

Videos by American Songwriter

Craig Campbell
Craig Campbell
(Bigger Picture Group)
[Rating: 3 stars]

On his debut album, Craig Campbell celebrates working class heroes and sympathizes with barroom zeroes. Produced by Keith Stegall, Craig Campbell copies the understated manner of Stegall’s protege and Campbell’s idol Alan Jackson. Laidback musings on rural living—especially “Makes You Wanna Sang” and “All Night to Get There”—would sound right at home on Jackson’s next project.

Campbell, also a Georgia native, seems to find his greatest comfort in life’s simple pleasures. He’s attracted attention with “Family Man,” a blue-collar husband’s description of how his modest needs are met. While he struggles for an honest day’s pay (“I’ve been working as a temp at the local factory/I hope they hire me on full time”), there’s no doubt that thoughts of his wife and two daughters cross his mind.

Campbell easily slips back into the past to sing about his romantic failures: “That Going Away Look (About Her)” is a skillful account of how it feels to endure the pain of a dying romance. But the most intriguing track is one about a love affair that never wavers. “You Probably Ain’t,” a damning dismissal of Music Row artists who lean heavily on “I’m country” anthems, tends to the thinning flame of traditional country. In responding to these wannabes, Campbell draws a deep line in the sand: “You can tell me about your grandpa/And how he turned you on to Hank/If you have gotta tell me how country you are/You probably ain’t.”

Campbell’s debut wastes little time on proving the singer’s bona fides; he supplies his songs with a handsome drawl that fits neatly with the twin fiddles and trembling steel coursing through the album. He doesn’t sell lightweight ditties like “Fish” and “Chillaxin'” nearly as well as the more grounded material, and “When I Get It,” a sharp bit of social commentary, is lost against the heavyhanded production. But despite these few small mistakes, Craig Campbell augurs well for his future.

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