“Hold The Sun” is the latest studio project from ‘Crooked Mouth’, an impressive Edinburgh-based group spearheaded by guitarist/songwriter Ken Campbell.Since 1995 Campbell has quietly gained a reputation in prog circles as an innovative songwriter and accomplished musician, beginning with his first project ‘God Monkey’ (“Burning Ambition” – 1995, “Holding Court” 1998, and “Milton’s Angel” 1999) bringing us to his current project ‘Crooked Mouth’.
Throughout the years Campbell has displayed the uncanny ability to acquire quality sessions musicians in a sort of revolving door policy to augment each album, and “Hold The Sun”, the follow-up to his 2003 self-titled ‘Crooked Mouth’ debut album, may well be his best collection of talent yet.
The album features: Ken Campbell (guitars & backing vocals), Tony Hodge (drums & programming), Alison Mitchell (keyboards & flute), Leen (bass guitar) Mike McCann (bass guitar & Chapman Stick), Kenny Haig (lead vocals), Lynne Campbell (backing vocals), Eilidh McLean (backing vocals), and Mike Warren (cello).
“Hold In The Sun” is an eclectic mix of post-modern, art, and progressive rock, with an undercurrent of haunting ambient electronics. The music is fresh, exciting, and intelligent. If you are looking for complex time signatures and instrumental gymnastics you won’t find them here. The music is well constructed and concise without any bloated filler or ego driven extended guitar solos.
Campbell crafts his songs with infectious melodies and lush arrangements reminiscent of artists David Sylvian, Al Stewart, and REM , as well as this next generation of progressive groups like ‘Chroma Key’, ‘Porcupine Tree’, and ‘O.S.I.’.
The vocal trio of Kenny Haig and female vocalists Lynne Campbell and Eilidh McLean brings to mind the vintage Buckingham/Nicks/McVie era ‘Fleetwood Mac’. Comparisons can also be made to ‘Jadis’, and ‘Mostly Autumn’.
I’ve always been a sucker for extended instrumentals, making my favorite track the moody finale “Touching The Heliosphere”. Campbell ’s guitar work can be as fluid and emotional as Steve Hackett and Andrew Latimer or blistering, crunchy and aggressive as Robert Fripp. Throughout the track elements of ‘Porcupine Tree’ ‘RPWL’, Hackett, ‘Camel’, and ‘King Crimson’ can be heard – an unbeatable combination.
Another stand-out track is “Idiotsublime” which blends the unlikely combination of ‘Fleetwood Mac’ and ‘O.S.I.’
Actually it’s pretty tough pointing out a favorite since there isn’t a weak track on the entire album. A Solid 10 out of 10 Rating.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on March 27th, 2008