As mainstream country music sinks further into its rut of monotony and triteness, Kate Campbell offers still more proof that country's fringes are producing some of their best music ever.
Campbell's sweet soprano and narrative songwriting recall two of today's best country-folk artists, Nanci Griffith and Iris DeMent, especially on the personal, poignant "Tupelo's TooFar." She touches on religious themes with "Delmus Jackson," a song of a church janitor's simple faith, and "Signs Following," which features Bill Miller on Native American instruments and condemns a preacher who resorts to "domestic violence with a holy rage."
Despite her seriousness on some songs, Campbell displays a goofy sense of humor on others, like "Bud's Sea-Mint Boat," the story of a man who spends his life "designing toilets for the space program" but decides to build himself a boat of sand and clay. Campbell even writes the occasional mainstream song, as in the case of "See Rock City," which could easily be a country hit for another artist. This album will likely go down as one of the year's 10 best.