Willie Campbell is a singer and songwriter from the Isle of Lewis and, as well as being a soloist, he fronts The Open Day Rotation, formed astrid with long-time friend Charlie Clark and was a founding member of The Reindeer Section with Gary Lightbody, not forgetting his other band, Tumbling Souls. In the usual way of things he’s hard to keep track of …but these are unusual times so what might have been the next Tumbling Souls album turned out to be Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down, Willie’s solo lockdown project. It was recorded at home with remote contributions from James Clifford on bass, Lloyd Reid on pedal steel and electric guitar plus pianist Keith Morrison, cellist Neil Johnstone and violinist Rhona Johnstone.
Initially, I wasn’t sure that this was our sort of album. It’s firmly in the realm of folk-rock but the first tracks are definitely rock. The songs are good, as is the execution, but the opener, ‘Leave Home’, seemed loud and brash at first. I stuck with it and I’m glad I did because Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down is a real grower. ‘Miracles of Joy, Miracles Of Pain’ finds Willie expressing his hopes for the future but again, I rather wish that he’d throttled back a bit – he plays a great drum pattern but it’s just a bit too much.
Having kept the radio DJs happy, Willie settles down with ‘Keep My Dreams Of Yesterday’. It seems to be another product of our times as he sings “there’s nothing for me looking back that way” and the notion of looking forward and picking yourself up after a set-back continues with the title track. As we get to the hinge, ‘Back To The Edge Of The World’ owes something to the Runrig song from The Big Wheel but for Willie the edge is a place of sanctuary and the upbeat accompaniment reflects Tumbling Souls’ taste for country music. It’s also about his love of his nation and ‘Wolves To Run’ continues in a similar vein. ‘Pages Of The Past’ is positively mellow and I really like ‘Endless Rhythm’ and the almost gospel ‘Lay Your Burden Down’, rapidly becoming my favourite track.
But then comes the final track, the pastoral ‘Home To Say Goodbye’, returns to the theme of home and regret for past mistakes. Willie performs it on acoustic guitar, simply strummed beneath his own backing vocals – so different from ‘Leave Home’. As I said Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down is a real grower spanning many different musical styles and it deserves to be given time to settle in.
Artist’s website: https://www.williecampbell.co.uk/
‘Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down’ – lockdown video: