The K.O.A Tapes (Vol I)
Large River Music/Hemifran
Rudimentary Folk Recordings To Take Your Breath Away.
Many years ago a Kate Campbell song – Crazy in Alabama turned up on a Various Artist CD and it’s still one of the most spellbinding ‘protest’ songs I’ve heard.
Since that day our paths have never crossed until now; with this album recoded over the course of a year on two mics in her own living room or the singer’s I-Phone when on Tour. Little bits have been added at a studio when the original songs were being engineered; but the overall sound is mesmerising and just perfect for this set of beautifully brittle folk songs.
Kate’s delightful voice and the two acoustic guitars sound wonderful on the opening track Some Song; akin to a big warm hug from a favourite Aunt.
Although a prolific songwriter herself; Kate includes several left of centre cover versions. The first of which is rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s America; alongside the legendary Spooner Oldham on Hammond B-3. A staple of just about every Busker I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing over the years; this version strips the song back to it’s bare bones and sounds even sadder than the original.
Another song that I thought I could have lived without hearing again would be I Am a Pilgrim; but again Kate Campbell puts her own spin on a tired old classic; and Steve Smith’s dramatic mandolin solo really gives it an extra kick in the pants.
In the middle of a bunch of Folk songs; Kate casually slips in a Hymn, Jesus Saviour, Pilot me, which I last heard at my Aunt Mary’s funeral several years ago. The words were striking then; and Kate’s delivery is just as touching.
Only a couple of songs receive a spoken intro and it’s fascinating to hear Kate introduce the final song on the record and perhaps the most bizarre selection of all – Freebird. Yes; that one! But even the first time I heard it, I was staggered to realise what a beautiful and haunting song it actually was; especially without the histrionic vocals and electric guitar solo. If you don’t do anything else; hunt out this song and tell me I’m wrong.
Mixing her own songs with some of her own favourites, Kate sounds like she’s having the time of her life; unrestrained by the shackles of a recording studio.
Released October 2015