The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







If you like a good rant read on, if you prefer the review skip the first three paragraphs…


Now if you were to start off a sentence with ‘Did you hear about Owen Campbell he was a finalist in Australia’s Got Talent’ I would probably completely ignore you, maybe forever. Such is my distaste for such exploitative exercises in banality that do all they can to both commodify and destroy the world’s music scene; reducing artists to a popularity contest based on superficial of looks and someone else’s product; it usually upsets me for the day.


To me it is for that very reason that I can’t even begin to contemplate why an artist with an ounce of self-esteem or self-worth would demean themselves to appear on such an unholy institution. Of course if someone is just looking for ‘fame’ then good luck to them, there’s another name I’ll never recognise who I’m sure will make a great living selling the ‘excitement’ of their daily lives to the tabloids. And I never bought that ‘necessary evil’ angle either so don’t bother trying it.


Owen Campbell was a finalist in Australia’s got talent and trying very, very hard to put that aside I’m left really not even wanting to play ‘Pilgrim’ at all, and it sits for days as a coffee coaster. For me you see it’s not even about if the album is any good, it’s that connection to the continued decline of music quality. I mean name one artist to come out of that mire that has any real staying power or depth that outweighs their gloss and media-pumped immediacy. Come to think of it name a great song anyone connected with any of those shows has produced…. ever.    


On one level Owen Campbell’s ‘Pilgrim’ is a fairly decent soulful Blues album.  Indeed it starts of well enough with the solid Blues groove of ‘Wreckin Ball’ before the similarly Bluesy meander of ‘Leave It Alone’ adds some soulful sax and nice backing vocals to the mix. ‘You Know I’m Gone’ adds a country twang, but is just rather pleasantly tepid.


A song like ‘Cried for Yesterday’ has all the right elements, the plaintive vocal, the low-key swirling Hammond, the dreamy sax and the slow groove, its beautifully constructed and a real highlight here, even if again, it sounds annoyingly familiar.  


On the other hand songs like ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ really don’t mean a thing, they are so low-key and perfunctory you can only imagine easy-listening junkies daring to take a sip. Sadly that is at complete odds with tracks like ‘Dev’Lish Woman’ which even though far from anything you could remotely contemplate labelling ‘original’, have some real life to them and a great bluesy swagger than gives you that glimmer of hope. ‘Remember to Breathe’ is perhaps even better and adds some meat to a simple bluesy line.


After an Eastern interlude with the instrumental ‘Bukhu’s Blues’, ‘New Year’s Eve’ is all Country-tinged singer-songwriter blandness with a very recognisable melody (see if you pick it up). ‘Highway Bound’ adds some nice picking and it’s a decent song; but the best is perhaps saved to last with the straight ballad ‘A Better Place’ which tugs those heartstrings nicely.     


There are moments you’ll like here if you love your Blues and don’t mind it sounding a little familar. Owen Campbell clearly has a great voice and he also has some decent songs here, but you feel the tendency is always to play it safe and keep an eye on the opportunities. I’d love one day for one of the contestants on one of those ‘talent shows’ to throw everything at it and blow us away rather than softly nudge us into submission…



by Mark Diggins