I have to admit I was more than a little surprised to hear that P.E.I.-born, Halifax-based rocker Christine Campbell had chosen hip hop's Classified as the producer for some of her second album. Classified has shown he's a very adaptable producer of course, from his work with David Myles and Ria Mae, but Campbell's not someone who has worked with the more contemporary sounds. She's rock and blues, Zeppelin and '70's. I just couldn't figure out how that would sound.
Well, it sounds just great. Instead of forcing something on her sound, the pair have taken her songs, and done a great production job that makes her stand out from all the guitar slingers. What Classified has brought is musical drama; pauses, big punches of sound, slightly off-kilter mixes, surprising moments, such as a double-tracked vocals. The three songs they worked on, including the first single, "Last Man Standing", are just packed with musical imagination. Still, there's no question these are '70's-influenced hard rock tunes.
Campbell's road-warrior partner, Blake Johnston, produced four of the other cuts, and Brian Moncarz did two more. While more straight-forward, the tracks are dynamic and exciting. All her strengths are all on display; lots of heavy-duty guitar solos, soaring vocals, with some quite scintillating high notes, and that surprising classical piano training sneaking in a couple of times. Old school guitar fans have nothing to worry about, there are plenty of raunchy licks, particularly on "Can't Stop The Clock", as nasty as an AC/DC cut. But she's very handy with a more melodic track too, such as "Nobody Cares", which sits somewhere between an Eagles and a Fleetwood Mac cut. It has the most glorious vocal on the set, and a twin-guitar solo to boot. That's my favourite cut, one of those ones where you wish we still had rock radio somewhere that would play it.
Campbell's going to be doing a few shows in New Brunswick for the next week, before venturing out to Ontario to wake them up. Catch her at:
- Thursday, March 30 - Corked Wine Bar, Fredericton
- Saturday, April 1 - Parkindale Hall, Parkindale, N.B.
- Friday, April 7 - Lou's Pub, Bathurst, N.B.