Music Review: Christine Campbell

If you've ever come across the Halifax band Stone Mary, you'll know they are a heavy, loud rock band, in your face, and award-winners too. They grabbed the Music Nova Scotia loud album of the year for 2011. And if you've seen them, you'll know their lead singer is quite something. Christine Campbell is hard-rockin', full-throated and the ultimate front woman, handling the vocals, lead guitar, and writing the tunes. In that bigger-than-life persona, it's hard to imagine her, well, quiet. Or at least, quieter.

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But take away that trusty Les Paul, get the Stone Mary guys to take a break, and there's a whole other side to Campbell ready to come out. Her first-ever solo album is here, just called Christine Campbell, and it's an introduction to her roots-and-blues acoustic side. All that flare and bravado is still there, but now she's showcasing her acoustic guitar chops, her classical training on piano, and a little more honey-and-mellow sound in her vocals.

While Campbell's always enjoyed rocking out, and always will, she's also had a singer-songwriter approach as well. Originally from PEI, that's how she started playing, so it comes naturally. It's been the best of both worlds for the past several months for her. East Coast audiences, used to seeing her at top volume, have been enjoying with this other persona. I first saw her at last summer's Larlee Creek Hullaballoo in Perth-Andover. The killer leads she does with Stone Mary are replaced by intricate acoustic work, and that trademark hard and heavy singing now has a sweet side. She's developed quite a following in the Moncton area the last few months, a quick drive from Halifax, and these solo shows have turned into a great place to try out the new material, and some surprising covers, like a little Led Zeppelin, only on acoustic.

The new album features ten originals, that run through a bunch of her styles, including a soft piano piece, some acoustic blues, roots rock, a little country flavour even. It's a strong showcase for her playing, with some pretty guitar parts, and her singing, with some surprising notes. She has this great high register, and she soars into it. Joining her on the disc are some special guests, all of them New Brunswickers by the way, Thom Swift, Irish Mythen out of Miramich, and Matt Andersen, who does a full duet with her, a real seal of approval from the area's best.

Campbell has a CD launch show on Friday, Feb. 15, and fittingly it's in Moncton, where she also gets a lot of loyal homies coming over from PEI. It's at the O.C. Nightclub, 10 PM.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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