Kate Campbell – Twang On A Wire
Those who have been fans of Kate Campbell for her penetrating songwriting as much for her compelling singing may be surprised to find that her new disc is almost all covers. Only one of the thirteen tracks is original — the brightly forlorn title song that closes the collection.
Campbell’s idea was to do versions of the songs she grew up singing with the radio, covering the seminal period in her life from 1968 to 1975. Which is why the disc kicks off with “Rose Garden”. In this version, Lynn Anderson’s 1970 hit is stripped to songwriter Joe South’s basics, with the familiar melody carried to the measure’s end on an electric guitar twang (the guitarists playing on the disc are Will Kimbrough, Kevin Gordon and Jay Zdad).
And so it is for the other choices. “Harper Valley PTA” is accented with Kimbrough’s slack-string dobro; “Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)” is done as a Civil War dirge; Dolly Parton’s “Down From Dover” comes down a few keys from the original; Emmylou Harris’ “Boulder To Birmingham” features Kimbrough doing a Gram Parsons-like turn.
It’s a brave disc, reverent and occasionally remarkable, but even Campbell can’t redeem “Satin Sheets”, Exhibit A in why countrypolitan fizzed out. Somehow she makes “Funny Face” bearable, but just barely.