It's that ringing sound in his playing that is at the center of his identity, and Shurman's open production and the arrangements allow the ringing, echoing guitars to drench the song as organs shimmer and horns punctuate as the bass hits hard and low, rumbling and deep. This blend is the secret ingredient to highlights like “Makin' Popcorn,” “My Last Affair,” the instrumental “It's So Easy,” and “Summertime.”
Campbell opens his interpretation of Gershwin's “Summertime” with a guitar figure that sounds like it came fresh off a White Stripes' record. We all know Jack White is a serious student of the blues, pointing to Son House as one of his important influences. The “Summertime” intro sounds similar to White's work on “I Think I Smell A Rat” from White Blood Cells.
As the song progresses, Campbell takes a few more tasty turns with guitar. My favorite is the intro, but what he does at the end is also really interesting. Actually, this song is a great piece of guitar work because Campbell shows his versatility. What you hear at the beginning is different from the solo he takes midway through the song and ends with some sweet chording. He blends distinct guitar personas in the same song — a cover of a well known song not associated with the blues. On “Summertime,” he stretches the bonds of the traditional blues without bursting them. That takes some real creativity.
Creativity is something Campbell has plenty of and it manifests itself in numerous ways. It's not often you hear someone merge traditional and unconventional in the blues but his idiosyncrasies and sense of humor surface on the record. The impact of that is mixed. There are times it loosens things up and makes for a good time and there are times it's more distracting than fun.
Campbell may not quite achieve his stated goal to Tear This World Up but his album is a gratifying listen worthy of its nomination as Album of The Year.