Rootsy Rock with a Rhythm and Blues flair flavor this sassy new offering from Power Blues man, John Campbelljohn.
Few artists in any genre are altogether that frank and honest about themselves. In true bluesman style, Nova Scotia’s John Campbelljohn is an honest man about his shortcomings, as well as his values.
The genuine self-deprecation that John exhibits in his brand of pub power blues is indeed refreshing. Lyrics like, “If there were a Stupid Hall of Fame, you know there ought to be a flag that bears my name,” from, “How Stupid Is That,” exhibit an easygoing sense of humor that is easy to appreciate.
However, he doesn’t let his listener off the hook. John’s more traditional values are also on full display without apology. In “Stop Making Excuses,” and “Attitude,” like a steely uncle with a lifetime of experience to draw from and impart to a gnarly and entitled youth, he implores, respectively, that, “It’s never too late to stand up and be brave; stop making excuses for the way that you behave,” and, “Stand up straight and comb your hair, stop pretending that you just don’t care,” the former presenting as a loose boogie with a riff reminiscent of the hook in John Fogerty’s “The Old Man is Down The Road,” the latter with a riff that comes at the listener like a wake-up call that would actually makes sense as an alarm clock set for 6 a.m.
The word sassy was used previously, “Castaway,” is the reason. A straightforward 4/4 time signature drives this number, while a signature loose, greasy, actually quite funky riff envelopes playful lyrics celebrating the bluesman’s seminal focus, the object of his desire, his honey. How could she possibly resist, given the light and punchy way this track bounces from side to side? No doubt, she cannot.
“Chin Up,” also offers a variety of themes that are arguably quite progressive for songs in the style of power blues. Other tracks transition from almost pastoral appreciation of arrival of spring (“Good Morning Mr. Blue Sky”), to more standard cautionary blues in the third person (“Sally in the Alley”), to the reluctantly spiritual (“Meet My Maker”).
A true blues workhorse, all of the tracks on Chin Up, showcase John’s muscular control of the electric blues guitar and Sonny Landreth-like slide work, while weaving in light and breezy bits of rhythm and blues as sunny as a horn section from New Orleans.
John Campbelljohn’s no-nonsense music is known from north America to Germany to Norway. His output has been solidly consistent since 1993’s “How Does It Feel.”
“Chin Up” is his 10th full-length release, and the early influences of masters such as Sun House and Duane Allman are represented here, in the best blues tradition that is, of being felt and not heard.
“Stop Making Excuses” from Chin Up by John Campbelljohn