Are you a fan of traditional-sounding country? Lamenting that the genre has gotten just too poppy or rocky or outlaw-y or...whatever...for your personal taste?
You're far from alone. And, I'm sure by now that you've been clued into new artist Craig Campbell, who's been making news on the country charts this year with his single "Family Man," and just released his debut album on Tuesday. Campbell's back-to-basics style was honed the old-fashioned way--by practicing plenty of years on stage in Nashville honky-tonks to appreciative crowds.
Now that he's finally cracked the big time--his self-titled release is produced by Keith Stegall, who's worked with Alan Jackson and the Zac Brown Band--critics are uniformly praising his sound, which really does ring with the genuine groundedness true country fans are lamenting is missing in their favorite music today.
Campbell's introduction to the charts, "Family Man," also provided him with an unlikely crossover advantage--a hook to folks who may not be sold on country proper, but appreciated the genuine sweetness of his first single.
The sentiment of the gentle ballad, which portrays the devotion of an "everyguy" for his wife and kids, was punctuated by the video for the song. Those adorable kids in the video? They're Campbell's own real-life daughters!
Just to refresh your memory, here's the clip. Try not to let your heart melt all over the place watching older daughter Presley's cute little pigtailed performance!
We sat down for a quick chat with Campbell about the general giddiness of releasing his debut album this week, along with a variety of other getting-to-know-you topics. Enjoy!
Our Country: So, your first record is finally out this week! How are you feeling?
Campbell: I'm excited. I've been doing shows for the past 10 years in Nashville, and everyone's been like, "Where can I get your music?" And it's always been, "You just have to come to a show." Now I can tell people they can go to all the big major outlets and pick it up!
OC: Do you have a particular favorite song off the new album?
CC: All of them are pretty bad to the bone! But, I guess "Family Man" will always be pretty special to me, because it was the first image everyone got of me and what I'm about. There's a couple songs on there that are really, really cool, though. Like "Fish." I think that is gonna show a more comic side of me. But it's just a good record.
OC: You attracted a lot of new fans with your sweet video for "Family Man." Was it your idea to put your own daughters in the clip?
CC: That was kind of a no-brainer. We were going to cast for the kids, and I didn't see any reason why we couldn't use my baby girls. And they did a good job--they stole the show!
OC: They certainly did! And your older girl was really a natural, especially for such a young child. Did the video require a few takes, or did she just walk on and nail it right off the bat?
CC: My oldest, at the time, was around 2 and a half years old. I was kind of worried about it--I didn't know if she was gonna take direction too well. Because she don't listen to me that well (laughs)! But she did absolutely everything that [the director] wanted her to do. Everything you see her doing in the video, she was told to do. It was really cool.
OC: Okay, so what are you going to do when she turns 16 and says "Dad, I want to go to Hollywood to become an actress!"
CC: Hey, if that's what she really wants to do, then I guess I'm gonna have to let her go!
OC: Speaking of family, man. What are your secrets for quality family time, given that you have such a busy and nontraditional career?
CC: I do think that whenever you have family time--make it family time. Put away the computers, put away the phones. That's what we do. And, when I'm on the road, one of my secrets is Skype. I see them as often as I can.
OC: Do your kids ever come to watch you play?
CC: They come to shows if its within driving distance and kid-friendly. I'm sure they're gonna make it to a few shows this year.
OC: You grew up with a heavy gospel influence, singing in the church. What made you ultimately decide you wanted to do country instead of gospel?
CC: My brother was about 5 years older than me; so he got his license--obviously--5 years before me. So he was driving us to school and home from school, and that's what he listened to. Randy Travis, Shenandoah, Mike Reid, Tracy Lawrence--that whole class of '89 that I think is some of the best country music ever. And that's when I decided, you know, I think I'd rather sing a country song.
OC: But you are still a gospel fan?
CC: I'm a southern gospel fan. I'm not a big fan of praise and worship music--I like quartets and four-part harmony. I got Gold City in my iPod...the Cathedrals, the Kingsmen. That's the good stuff.
OC: So, you're going out on the road with Willie Nelson for the Country Throwdown tour this summer? Sounds like that'll be lots of fun!
CC: Oh yeah. Oh, Willie Nelson, I'm a big fan. When they called and wondered if I'd be up for doing the tour--just touring with Willie would be enough for me, but then I found out my buddies Lee Brice, Randy Houser, and Jamey Johnson were going to be on [the tour too]. I mean, shoot! Who wouldn't want to be on that?
OC: I hear you! Any other big plans for the months ahead?
CC: I just want to meet everybody! Let's get out there and play some music.
Thanks for your time, Craig! Are you a fan of Craig's music? Will you be picking up his debut album? Be sure to let me know what you think!
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