Album Review: Craig Campbell - "Outta My Head" EP
By: Matt Bjorke
There have been many strong newcomers to hit the Country Music dial this year but few, if any, have showcased the potential that Craig Campbell has at bridging the traditional with the modern sounds. His self-titled debut album for the Bigger Picture label produced two Top 20 hits in "Family Man" and "Fish" and also delivered a third single "When I Get It" that was among 2011's best singles but somehow failed to do much outside of scraping the Top 40. With his new Outta My Head EP, Craig Campbell has slightly tweaked his neo-traditionalist country sound by looking at outside material like the title track without sacrificing what has made him such an appealing artist in the first place.
"Outta My Head" is catchy and contemporary but with Matt Rovey and Keith Stegall's production, the song still retains enough of that sound that is explicitly country, from the fiddles to Craig Campbell's own natural twang. "My Baby's Daddy" is a cute song about the very real feelings about trying to become the man in a girl's life and how to be one, that means you have to go through her daddy. It's the type of serious yet light-hearted song that country music does well and it feels like something that radio will really start to like at some point in the near future.
There's a natural vocal ease and classic 80s Country feel to "That's Why God Made A Front Porch." It's tender, nostalgic and just downright Country Music to my ears. You can hear the sweet mandolins, steel guitars and twangy piano in mix while the vocal is emotive as Craig describes the warmth feeling of home and country life. It's laid-back and comfortable country music, just like a pair of cowboy boots and Wrangler blue jeans. "Keep Them Kisses Comin'" is another tempo-filled radio-ready track (honestly, every track on this Outta My Head EP is radio-ready) and features a persuccive melody with modern sounds while never losing fiddles and steel guitars too deep in the mix. This is such a likable, charming vocal performance as well.
"When She Grows Up" closes out the 5 track EP and starts off with his young daughter singing a few lines and then moves into an emotive story song about his daughter and how everything Craig Campbell is doing is for that little girl and that "What she sees in me is what I wanna be when she grows up." Again, this is the kind of song that only a country music singer could do and that's exactly what Craig Campbell is. Sure, a couple songs here have move Craig's sound to slightly more 'modern' than his self-titled album sounded like but this is clearly just window dressing as he remains one of the most promising Neo Traditionalist country music artists working in the mainstream environment today.