Music Review: Campbell hits right note on self-titled CD

Craig Campbell, “Craig Campbell” (Bigger Picture)

A Georgia native, Craig Campbell first drew attention by drawing sell-out crowds in Nashville’s bustling downtown honky-tonk clubs. Producer Keith Stegall, who has guided the recordings of Alan Jackson and the Zac Brown Band, convinced Campbell to sign with his new independent label, Bigger Picture Records—a gamble for a genre dominated by major labels.

Campbell’s roll of dice has paid off: His song “Family Man,” long a crowd favorite, is a current country radio hit. More traditional than most contemporary hits, “Family Man” shows off Campbell’s strengths. He’s got a strong voice, a straightforward, communicative style, and a lyric (one of nine songs he co-wrote) detailing a real-life situation. In this case, the song is about an out-of-work husband and father who draws on the love of his family to stay positive despite hard times.

Campbell tends to keep his stories grounded in reality, even on sing-alongs like “When I Get It,” about a blue-collar rationing where his weekly paycheck goes. Throughout, Stegall’s production emphasizes a bar-band sound heavy on pedal steel, fiddle and twangy Telecaster leads.

Despite occasional lapses, like the wince-inducing double entendre of “Fish,” Campbell translates his entertaining nightclub personality to a bigger stage, while drawing on the age-old strengths of country music along the way.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: On “All Night To Get There,” a steel guitar sets up a catchy, danceable track about a couple heading out for a long evening. The fellow sweetly suggests they take things slowly, whether it’s with the tequila they’re drinking or the heat they feel between them.

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