Troy Campbell | Long in the Sun

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Rock: Acoustic Pop: with Live-band Production Moods: Mood: Brooding
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Long in the Sun

by Troy Campbell

Founder and leader of Austin's roots rock pioneers Loose Diamonds, Troy Campbell is uniquely positioned by his background as well as personally inclined to explore his American sense and place.
Genre: Rock: Acoustic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Famous
3:40 $0.99
2. I'll Let You Know
4:08 $0.99
3. Lovers
2:37 $0.99
4. Killing Time in Texas
4:45 $0.99
5. Disappear
2:57 $0.99
6. Broken Shadow
3:26 $0.99
7. Birdsong
3:25 $0.99
8. Along in the Sun & the Rain
4:59 $0.99
9. Sleepy
3:01 $0.99
10. Deliverance
3:50 $0.99
11. Town to Town
3:33 $0.99
12. Ball and Chain
3:58 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Those who've followed Troy Campbell through his evolution over the years, from the punk-wired Highwaymen, to Americana-drenched Loose Diamonds, and now three albums into a stellar solo career, have always known he's a restless soul. It's written in his songs, which flit between a jumpy, let's-blow-this-town urgency, and more sorrowful expressions of longing, hope, idealism. And it's there in his remarkable voice, a uniquely expressive instrument comfortable with everything from jagged murder ballads to four-on-the-floor Chuck Berry rockers to candlelit love songs.

But now that restlessness finds new harmony in Campbell's life: Rather than sit on his hands as the new century dawned, Campbell reinvented himself, emerging as one of Austin's most promising filmmakers, a sharp mind delving into the spot where music, culture and film converge, a mover and shaker with a passion for his subjects.

Campbell first produced A Place to Dance, a documentary short about New Orleans big-band maestro Pat Barberot, which won the audience award for best documentary at the 2004 Austin Film Festival. Meanwhile, with his partner/animator Dano Johnson, he launched Collection Agency Films, exploring his love for storytelling in great clips covering Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, songwriter du jour Ray Wylie Hubbard, and others. More recently, Campbell's put his camera to good use filming something near and dear to the heart of any Texas rock 'n' roller--the astonishing return to live performance of psychedelic legend Roky Erickson.

None of which really preps us for Long in the Sun, Campbell's extraordinary new album. With roots maven Gurf Morlix (producer of a veritable who's who of American music, from Lucinda Williams to Butch Hancock) at the helm again, Long in the Sun is easily Campbell's most assured and most invitingly intimate effort yet, a panoramic collection with an intent eye on human interconnections, motivations, emotions.

Perhaps the most immediately striking element of Long in the Sun is Campbell's gorgeous, magisterial way with a melody. From the beguiling chorus of the opening cut, "Famous," to "Lovers," which, with its sparkling guitar lines and sunny tune, is nothing if not an update of the classic Buddy Holly & the Crickets' sound, the songs are a bedrock merging of country, folk, and pop with the simple elegance of early rock 'n' roll. The shimmering "I'll Let You Know" positively glows, Campbell cradling the song like a newborn baby, and Morlix unspooling gorgeous guitar texture in the best David Lindley tradition. "Over and over, I find new hope . . . ," Campbell sings.

Which is not to say Long in the Sun doesn't have its share of darkness. Campbell leans into a bluesy cover of Woody Guthrie's "Along in the Sun & the Rain" with knowing gusto, letting the painful yowls and between-the-lines nuances tell the story. The foreboding march "Killing Time in Texas," co-written with Morlix, is the kind of harrowing ballad that could've been penned by Townes Van Zandt, and with its backdrop--meth-addicted mid-America--it's likely to resonate more than most folks care to admit. "The Oklahoma speedway will only make you mean," Campbell intones.

Campbell’s been defining his own element, and writing eloquently from that experience, from the time his international genetics blessed him with what he jokingly calls “that un-American Indian look, exotic white trash from Ohio.” Despite the cultural strains of his parents’ marriage (“he brought her from Korea to Kentucky to show what really poor people looked like,” Troy says with a laugh), both of them instilled the love of music from his earliest memories. When he’d take road trips in his dad’s coal truck, they’d listen to Elvis and George Jones on the radio and play Red Sovine on the truckstop jukebox. Back home, he’d sing with his mother, who favored the likes of Sam Cooke, Freddy Fender, even Bobby Darin, the sort of distinctive crooners who inspired Campbell to develop a voice all his own.

Like so many among his generation, Campbell responded to the alarm of the ‘70s punk-rock revolution, embracing the emotional urgency of the Ramones and the Clash, seeing every touring band that passed through nearby Dayton. Among them were the True Believers from Austin, Texas, fronted by Alejandro Escovedo and his brother, Javier. Flying the do-it-yourself flag of inspired amateurism, Alejandro encouraged Troy and his brother Mike to form a band and said he’d let them open for his band, even though they had no musical experience.

Playing with enough passion to offset their lack of instrumental proficiency, the Campbells quickly developed the Highwaymen into one of the most promising bands from the Dayton area. From the start, Troy found it easier to write material than try to play someone else’s. Winning a radio station’s battle of the bands gave them studio time to record their 1986 debut EP. The four-song, self-titled release served as a calling card for the touring band, who quickly lived up to their name, opening for the likes of the True Believers and Green on Red.

In 1989, the brothers Campbell followed Alejandro all the way back to Austin, a creative hothouse filled with kindred musical spirits. Fusing rootsy heartland strains with punk energy, the band found it’s spark renewed through Austin guitarist Scrappy Jud Newcomb, who played like Keith Richards to Troy’s Gram Parsons. After changing their name to Loose Diamonds (from a song by Jo Carol Pierce, whose acclaimed Austin tribute album Troy co-produced). the band became a national favorite. They conquered clubs one by one, with the intensity of their live performances recalling Austin hero Joe Ely or even Bruce Springsteen (who proclaimed himself a fan of the band’s “wide-open sound,” while calling Troy “a rare voice”).

Though 1993’s Burning Daylight debut won NAIRD’s award as the year’s best indie rock CD, and 1996’s Fresco Fiasco was listed among that year’s 10 undiscovered gems by the New York Times, deals with financially-plagued Austin labels and years of hard touring eventually ground Loose Diamonds down. Campbell and Newcomb retained a creative friendship (co-writing the title track to 2002's American Breakdown) that keeps the possibility alive for a band reunion, while both continue to pursue separate musical paths.

While American Breakdown represented a kind of traumatic reconnection (with himself, with history, etc.) following the Diamonds' late-90s breakup and the willful experimentalism of 1999's Man vs. Beast--resulting in songs both harrowing (the title track) and elegiac ("World Without Tears")--Long in the Sun is the work of one of America's best songwriters operating from a place of strength, open to all that comes his way, and pushing himself and his songs to new heights. Amen.



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J. C.

Another Fine Body of Work
Filmmaker, animator and songwriter Troy Campbell has created one of the brightest sounding albums of his career!