Album review of 'Burgers and Murders' by Brendan Campbell.
Strange days indeed. Everyone beyond puberty and under thirty is either queuing up for an audience with Simon Cowell and his D-list creeps, or wandering around with an acoustic guitar and a MySpace page claiming to be the next great acoustic poet of their generation.
It's the kind of backdrop where, as the suits in marketing will tell you, aspiring troubadours need a 'USP' (Look it up on Wikipedia). Lucky then for Brendan Campbell that he's in possession of a voice which sets him apart from the massed anodyne ranks of Morrison-a-likes, along with a song writing talent which extends well beyond the much abused cod-folk and supine balladry.
Born one of six children in Glasgow, Campbell isn't the only contemporary artist to use the city as a muse - Glasvegas' debut is an exercise in anti tourist bleakness for the city's East End - but Burgers and Murders, despite it's gauche title is a more subtle homage. Beginning his musical life in Celtic folk bands after initially taking up the penny whistle, the twenty five year old has distilled the more elemental ingredients of tradition - passion, authenticity and belief - to create a highly personal vision of his place in the city's past, present and future.
The title track begins with a walk through the streets at twilight, complemented by a deliberately incongruous, sweetly finger picked backdrop and the occasional darker swatch of synthesised noise. Campbell's voice - wavering between moribund echoes of Dylan and a richer, more idiosyncratic drawl - also serves to elevate the more straightforward acoustic pop of When You're Doing Nothing and Pirate Song, whilst Indica reveals his fascination for folk legend Bert Jansch in all its baroque glory (He's in good company - Johnny Marr also cites Jansch as a pivotal influence).
Only once does Burgers and Murders succumb to herd mediocrity - the up-tempo waddle of Dali's Joystick - but it only serves to underline the consistency that surrounds it, each laconic vignette as fascinating as the last. Let's face it, we need more Brendan Campbell's; people with rough edges, damaged perceptions and the capacity to turn them into stories. Not perfect, but file under 'Interesting'.