Fil Campbell,
Beneath the Calm
(Lahaina, 2002)

Fil Campbell's voice is vibrant with an impressive range of expression, and this singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland performs the songs on Beneath the Calm with energy and style.

The CD gets off to a brisk start with "Somebody Up There Likes Me," an upbeat song from the point of view of someone on the rise after overcoming difficulties. Sung with fervent and infectious enthusiasm, the song grabs your attention and sets you up for more. The next track, "Free My Soul," delivers with the same exuberance that marks the first song.

After that, however, the tone shifts into introspective and moody. Most of the remaining eight songs are variations on the theme of "I still love you" or "I'll always love you" and on just about each one, the tempo is slow and melancholy or slow and wistful. "On the Water" breaks the pattern with a bit more drive to it and a more universal theme.

The arrangements are nicely meshed with Campbell's gorgeous voice, and she is supported handily by Bill Shanley (guitars, dobro), James Brennerhasset (bass), Gavin Murphy (keyboards), Tom McFarland (percussion) and Ann Murnaghan (cello). Rod Quinn, Tom McFarland and Bill Shanley prove backing vocals.

Campbell has what it takes -- she makes good choices musically, she has a unique and appealing voice and she uses it well. A bit more variety would have been welcome; my personal preference is to listen to livelier music in general. Still, for those with a penchant for solitary introspection, Beneath the Calm fills the bill.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 30 August 2003

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