Blues and Lamentations.
How many artists have a page on the Country Music Television website and quotes from Zora Neale Hurston, Annie Dillard, and Georgia O'Keeffe on their CD booklet? The answer is one: Kate Campbell, with her new album Blues and Lamentations.
Campbell, who has turned out 10 albums in as many years, is firmly rooted in the musical, religious, and literary traditions of the South. Born in New Orleans while her father attended the Southern Baptist seminary there, she grew up as a preacher's kid in the Delta town of Sledge, Mississippi, and later in Nashville.
In the liner notes for her latest CD, Campbell writes about the blues as the "understory" for her music, and five of the songs have the word "blue" in the title. But this is not a blues album. It is essentially the same subdued acoustic country music as from Campbell's earlier albums.
But the idea of the blues--suffering transmuted into beauty--is all over these lyrics. There's "Genesis Blues," which situates the Garden of Eden in the poverty of the Mississippi Delta, and Creation in the moment when the first bluesman laid the first glass bottleneck across a guitar string. And a song is salvation for the prisoner Campbell shows gazing through the bars at the "Free World"
I've always felt that Campbell's finely-crafted songs could benefit from some loosening up and some drumming, and I still do. But I can find no fault with her cover tunes here. On "Pans of Biscuits," a traditional song about a poor cotton farmer cheated in this life and hoping for biscuits and gravy in the next, Campbell is joined by the cracked and weathered voice of legendary country songwriter Guy Clark.
On "Lord Help the Poor and Needy," borrowed from North Mississippi blueswoman Jessie Mae Hemphill, Campbell sings alone, accompanied only by a tambourine, and the song's prayer for the gamblers, motherless children, and war-torn peoples "in this land" becomes, well, a prayer.
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|Author:||Collum, Danny Duncan|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2006|
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