Mike Campbell,
High Country
(independent, 1996)

High Country is Alaska-based singer-songwriter Mike Campbell's second album. Released in 1996, it is a collection of original songs by Mike celebrating life in the snowy state.

Opener "Highway of Dreams" tells how Mike, together with his wife Tawmmie and the kids ("sleeping soundly"), loaded up their possessions into the back of a used livestock truck and headed north to Alaska. The sing-song chorus goes, "We were off to Alaska on the highway of dreams, / A road to adventure few people have seen, / We'll cross over mountains, canyons and streams, / As we drive up the highway of dreams." Mike's deep, deep baritone voice evokes a classic frontiersman image. His warm vocals add a certain richness to resonance that is already there in the lyrics.

Mike's strengths as a storyteller come to the fore in many of the tracks on the album, but on the title track especially. "Oh Mary, sweet Mary I've just come from town, / Where young Joseph Connolly was showing what he found," he begins, before continuing: "He's returned from high country and truth, it be told, / He's come back with great riches, his pockets filled with gold." Very akin to an old-stlye Irish ballad, the song is a classic man-and-nature tale using brilliant imagery and a nod to the Almighty for good measure.

Throughout the record, Mike's words and voice combine to create a rich, diverse batch of songs, all imbued with a warm campfire-glow and a good honest-to-God morality.

review by
Sean Walsh

28 July 2007

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