Ted Russell Kamp
File Under: Classy and Classic Modern Americana/Country-Rock With West Coast Overtones and Folk Undertones
We’ve been late to the party with Ted Russell Kamp; only discovering his multi-talents and great voice three years ago with his 11th solo album, WALKIN’ SHOES, which we loved to bits; as we did with the follow up, in 2020 DOWN IN THE DEN …… and without spoiling your surprise; SOLITAIRE is very much in the same laid back, West Coast Country Rock Singer-Songwriter vein and it’s held a special place lately in the Magmobile on weekend journeys around the highways and by-ways of the Kingdom of Northumbria.
Opening track My Girl Now is real toe-tapper and actually a bit faster than you think it is ….. try singing along ….. it’s nearly impossible without gasping for breath half way through. Kamp’s slightly raspy voice is almost perfect for this tale of winning a heart after a long and troubled courtship of sorts …… and very much sets the tone for what is to follow.
Probably best known as the bass player in Shooter Jennings’ Band; Ted is also a Producer of some repute too; but IMHO he is also one of the finest songwriters in the idiom as I’ve heard since the heydays of Country Rock in the 1970’s. .
Birds That Sing at Dawn finds Kamp’s already husky voice dropping down a key or two as he sings about a beautiful if flawed love affair……. ‘the one that got away’ ….. and I bet you don’t pout; as I did the first time you hear the chorus;
“I’ll just sit here drinking whisky
Waiting for the birds that sing at dawn.”
Like so many other songwriters; these songs came to Kamp as he was housebound during Lockdown I in 2020; and there’s a claustrophobic feel to a couple because of that; Be Your Man and Exception to The Rule are prime examples; with sparse arrangements that enable the singer to sound as profound and heartbroken as music allows.
While most of these songs are from the Country Love Song playbook; i.e. lost love and broken hearts are the threads that hold everything together; what else would you expect from titles like Only a Broken Heart and/or A Rose or Two? and they both live up to the billing; but don’t worry …… Ted Russell Kamp has a special way with his words and arrangements that will tug at your heartstrings while still allowing you a ‘knowing smile’ at the same time …. the intricate title track Solitaire, being the type of song we’d normally associate with someone like JJ Cale and again later on The Spark too.
We need to go back to the beginning for my Favourite Song on this rather fine album; and even then it’s a coin toss between two …… the intricate and articulate Path of Least Resistance being ‘one of those songs’ where I’ve been left thinking ‘where did that come from’? The use of imagery and metaphor is simply outstanding; more so from someone best known as a side-kick!!
The other follows immediatly after and is by far the most up-tempo track here; bordering on actual Country Rock and if you were to hear it on the radio you would presume it was a killer tune from Poco or The Eagles or maybe even The Pure Prairie League; but no sirree You Can Go To Hell; I’m Going to Texas is 100% Ted Russell Kamp and you need to hear this song ASAP.
One of music’s problems these days is that too many musicians get pigeonholed for lazy fans on streaming sites; which has to be a dilemma for someone like Ted Russell Kamp as I doubt there’s a genre called Classy and Classic Modern Americana/Country-Rock With West Coast Overtones and Roadhouse Undertones ….. but I could be wrong of course.