Album: Songs From The Campfire by Craig Gould

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Debut albums nowadays are either a charmer that is set to give their artists legendary status…or just a stepping stone with no exciting or stand-out moments. Today we will be reviewing the debut (and mostly acoustic) album from Craig Gould entitled “Songs From The Campfire” to see how it holds up in that sense. 

The album begins with the track “The Campfire Song” which sets the mood and the ideas for what’s about to come. The song feels like it could actually be sung around a campfire due to its peacefully soothing chord progression and the soft percussion leading the listener into this dreamy and overall positive state. The second track “Out Of The Woods” has a clearer folky influence with the strings and the added percussions. I really love how the singing leans more towards a storytelling style than typical verse-chorus-verse…this way every section of the track is more enjoyable and the track compels you to replay it multiple times. The backing vocals made me feel like this song is being sung by a group of friends in some old tavern or pub where everyone is tapping their feet and clapping while singing those beautiful and uplifting lyrics. Dreamers has a calmer and more somber intro with the vocals and only the acoustic guitars playing behind before they are shortly joined by some backing vocals and the fiddle that makes you wanna dance around. It’s amazing how they made a track that’s part somber/calm and part upbeat dance party at the same time. 

The fourth track, “Ain’t No Place To Hide” has a faster tempo (after its intro) and some more soulful vocals with grit and distortion in them. I fell in love with the country-soul-fusion sound of this song at first listen. One of the album’s lengthy tracks, “I Am The Earth“, shows a very emotional piano playing some heart-wrenching melodies along with the acoustic guitar and the fiddle throughout its first half. Shortly after, some percussive elements join the mix and we are presented with some lyrics that pay tribute to the planet and how it’s crying for help. Craig sings some of his most beautiful and emotional lines in this track and this is why it’s my personal favorite on the whole record. Burned brings back the dancey tavern vibes from before, with a very country/folk arrangement and Craig’s larger-than-life lead vocals that sound full and powerful enough to carry the track on their own, yet the track still makes use of some extra backing vocals to give that party or “campfire” vibe. In the middle part of the song, Craig gets a chance to show off vocally, and he delivers some of the most challenging parts in the whole album with incredible ease and beauty.

 

Old Brown Boots is an emotional ballad with a brooding chord progression, calm breathy vocals, and a fiddle that plays with your heartstrings. The heavenly high notes that Craig sings near the end of this song are set to give you goosebumps and raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Holding On has some more emotional vocals, but the mid-tempo percussion and beautiful guitars lighten things up a bit. The following track, “Captain Of The Seas” begins with angelic vibes from Craig, and some strings that make it feel like an epic movie scene. The story being told by this song (and the tribute it’s telling) makes me want it played at my funeral- it’s that much beautiful and eulogistic. Craig’s vocals felt nothing short of a medieval-time bard here, and I’m completely in love with them. The last (longest) track, “Story Of Life”, takes us back to the good old campfire with its simple first half that’s all about the softly sung lines and the soothing guitar. Some clapping or clap-like percussion keeps things calm and comforting…and the song builds up and gains more pace. The guitars roar harder and the vocals soar higher in the mixed belting register in the beautiful way that Craig has repeatedly proved to be a master of. The vocalizing at the end of the song repeats until it fades out and beautifully closes the album.

From start to finish, this record had no dull moments or filler tracks. Every transition and every change felt necessary…and the way Craig sings his lines screams of beauty and gives the listener instant goosebumps. This debut album will put Craig on the map and make him a recognized name for sure because it’s one of those phenomenal and monumental debuts I was talking about earlier. I recommend this record to fans of all genres equally, but I’m pretty sure fans of country, folk, and Americana will specifically love it more than anyone else.

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