Album review by Vince Leigh
[Heads up! If you want to catch the mighty Owen Campbell & The Cosmic People, they are playing at the Canberra Irish Club on Sunday, 19 March. The night kicks of at 6:30pm, and tickets are available via Oztix – Bossman Sko]
It’s no surprise that after over 12 years of national and international touring, writing, recording and releasing albums, EPs, and singles, Owen Campbell has established a reputation in the Australian alt-blues rock world.
He’s gigged across the globe—USA, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Holland, Japan, Hong Kong, India, and even performed at the highest blues festival in the world – The Himalayan Blues Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal—and every album upon release has hit the top ten on the iTunes Blues Charts in over ten countries.
One of which, Sunshine Road, reached the top spot on the overall charts in Australia in 2014, replacing Adele. That’s quite a feat. Perhaps it’s no wonder then that a live album has been released.
The blues-rock genre Owen Campbell is operating in lends itself to such a platform, whether purely a display of finely honed musical skill or the combined energy of performer and audience amalgamated into a unique yet fleeting experience. It acts as a condensed embodiment and an ultimate exploitative source.
Digging deep and authentic
In some instances, an act’s live set reveals what a studio-recorded product cannot. Namely, a breadth and depth of character, connection, and spirit that’s difficult to manufacture. In short, it cannot be communicated any other way.
And although Owen’s style is clearly outlined, there are a few variations at play here, from the laid-back accessibility of the opening tune, The Cool Moonlight, to the suitably fired-up rock sensibilities of the encore, Cosmic People. The 14 tracks here span the length of Owen’s recorded output, digging deep back to his debut album in 2011.
The most fundamentally distinguishing element of the record—Owen’s vocal performance—is justifiably prominent, mixed so that its nuances, its gritty attributes are front and centre. But despite this, the album nonetheless feels authentically representative and a fitting endorsement for an undoubtedly well-developed, ongoing musical experience.