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

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

Craig Campbell, "Craig Campbell" (Bigger Picture)

April 5th, 2011 by MICHAEL McCALL, For The Associated Press in News

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.