Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Illinois Entertainer Reviews 2013: C

The Anchor & the Sail
(Little London)

It’s no surprise that this small-town North Carolina lass has signed a publishing deal with Michael W. Smith’s publishing company.  These 10 songs evince craftswomanship of a high order.  And it’s not just the lyrics and the melodies--even the lovingly nuanced instrumentation and arrangements suggest blueprints that singers with voices richer and more distinctive than Campbell’s would be stupid not to follow before embellishing them to the top of the pop, the country, the adult-contemporary, or, in the case of “My Patchwork Heart,” the Contemporary Christian Music charts.  Campbell’s voice, apart from sounding a little too thin, is not unpleasant.  It is, however, generic, something that even the most all purpose of her compositions (Sheryl Crow would’ve been better off covering Campbell’s “Mississippi” than Dylan’s) is not.

Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle 
(Constant Ivy)

Here’s another band that sounds like Mumford & Sons but that has been around longer (a lot longer actually).  So, again, the similarities (rousing vocals, acoustic strumming, jig-dancing rhythms) are coincidental.  These Virginians were not, however, around before the Pogues, and somewhere between Mumford and MacGowan is where their sound falls (and occasionally rises)--“Jiggery Poguery” you might call it.  What sets it apart is lyrics that are neither religious nor alcoholic (partial exceptions: “Bloody Good Bar Fight Song” and “Sad and Alone” respectively).  But what good is Irish-rooted rock-folk without religion or alcohol (or, even better, both)?  And in light of the scarcity of Nazis and flesh-eating zombies these days, how is pledging to fight them (“The Fox and the Hare”) proof of one’s love exactly?

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