Earlier this decade, Stacy Dean Campbell released Lonesome Wins Again and Hurt City, engaging albums that showed a great deal of promise for his songwriting talent and a smooth, sweet voice that was made to sing country.
Ashes Of Old Love, his first release in four years, signals a change in direction for the Nashville singer-songwriter. While his previous work had a lot more twang, Ashes Of Old Love is an acoustic-based effort, with Campbell playing more of a storyteller in the vein of Chris Knight or Kevin Welch. The Knight comparison is particularly apt given that Frank Liddell, who produced Knight’s debut, is listed as co-producer here; furthermore, both Knight and Welch have co-writer credits on one song each.
Campbell shows ample growth as songwriter; his vibrant stories of folks from the other side of the tracks, lost moments in time, and smoldering love are well-crafted bits of Americana. Midway through, though, listeners may find themselves craving a change in tempo and mood. Too much of the record is enveloped in a quiet haze that tends to become unremittingly somber.
The Tex-Mex flavored “Five Texas Dollars” helps a bit with its colorful accordion and agile guitar picking, but one song is not enough. By the time Campbell gets to a heartfelt take of David Halley’s classic “Rain Just Falls”, Ashes Of Old Love has become a overbearing piece of melancholy that might feel right on a rainy day, but otherwise needs a jolt of energy.