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Kate Campbell

Monuments, Twang on a Wire – 2003 (Large River Music)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Kate Campbell

For the bulk of her 10-year career, Kate Campbell has been known primarily in folk circles, although her work has always been informed with the smoldering passions of Memphis soul, country R&B, Southern rock and pop. With the first two releases on her own label, Campbell reconciles the many facets of her sound into a cohesive whole, but on vastly differing corners.

On "Monuments," Campbell seems to make the most solid connection between her influences and herself, swirling tasteful dashes of everything she does well into her distinctive folk style. At the same time, she is clearly writing the best songs of her career just as she has most successfully incorporated her many flawless influences into her brilliantly inclusive style; the Lucinda swing pop of "Corn In A Box" nestles sweetly against the smoky blues of "Joe Louis' Furniture" and the cosmic country soul of "Strangeness of the Day."

On "Twang on a Wire," Campbell more fully explores her inner country chick by offering a tribute to some of the influential writers and singers that have contributed to her eclectic style. Campbell's country tendencies have always been inherent in her folk presentation, but this draws a more obvious and direct line between them, from her heady take on "Rose Garden" to her blistering version of "Harper Valley PTA" to her heart wrenching spins on "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and "Honey On his Hands."

With the subtle tribute of "Monuments" and the overt homage of "Twang on a Wire," Kate Campbell moves away from being measured by her influences and toward standing shoulder to shoulder with them.