Album: Kate Campbel

Monuments (Evangeline)

Friday 15 November 2002 01:00

Blessed with a voice that blends the purity of Emmylou Harris with the haunted quality of Gillian Welch, and an observational eye equally adept at tracing the peculiarities of desire and the progress of the New South, Kate Campbell is one of the brightest talents of the New Country scene. As the title suggests, her fifth album Monuments is mostly concerned with issues of change, achievement and memory. "Evolution's almost through/ There ain't much left that we can't do," she marvels in "Corn In A Box", her awed gaze shifting from pyramids to moon landings, but abruptly halted in its tracks by the observation that we "still can't grow corn in a box"; "Strangeness Of The Day" likewise considers how little the marvels of modern science disperse one's sense of wonder at the world. The changing face of the American South, meanwhile, is neatly illustrated in the contrast between "New South" and "Petrified House" – the one remarking drolly on how "We traded in our boots for Italian loafers/And Bichon Frises are our new hounds/Thanks to Disney World and Coca-Cola/We're finally living in the New South". Most poignant of all is "Joe Louis's Furniture", in which purchase of the late boxer's coffee-table at a yard sale prompts reflection on how his greatness was so poorly rewarded by his country: "Now I've worked hard all my life/With nothing to show for it/But a poor man's pride". Recommended.

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