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Shawn Camp

Fireball – 2006 (Skeeterbit)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Shawn Camp

After establishing himself as a writer of hits for an array of Nashville elites that includes names like Brooks, Strait, Loveless and Travis, Arkansas-born picker and singer Shawn Camp steps forward with his first studio effort in years on the heels of a live album recorded at Nashville's premier bluegrass venue, the Station Inn.

With the exception of the slower-paced, ballad-like "Love Ain't Leavin'," the13 tracks - all co-written by Camp with a cast of collaborators - are pretty much high-energy, good-natured fare along classic country themes - fast women (the title track), fast dogs ("Beagle") and wry, down-home philosophizin' ("Just As Dead Today").

Most of it has a strong electric flavor, but for the self-described bluegrass nut he is, it's no surprise that there are hints of grass all through, and two cuts ("Would You Go With Me" and the aforementioned "Just As Dead Today") are just this side of straight-ahead bluegrass.

Camp is an accomplished instrumentalist and is backed up here by quality veterans like Dan Dugmore and Al Perkins. Vocally, Camp doesn't quite have the richness, depth and texture of an Alan Jackson, but he's sort of in that ballpark, and certainly more than worth a listen.