Brett Campbell is a singer-songwriter from Queensland, Australia, and is arguably one of the hardest working musicians around performing over three hundred shows a year. His latest album Let’s Skidaddle is a real winner, featuring eleven original songs that are imaginative, melodic and interactive. I was looking forward to hearing this album because, having seen Brett perform live, I was particularly interested to see if he could capture that raw energy in the studio – I was certainly not disappointed.
The opening track “Welcome To The Show” grabs the listener’s attention immediately. The song features both a lively acoustic guitar and a melodic honky tonk piano. It is a delightful sing along track, providing ample opportunities for the kids to join in on the chorus. “What’s in My Lunch Box?” opens with bongos and continues this positive vibe with the artist describing the variety of goodies contained in his lunch box. “Duck, Duck, Frog”, reminded me a little of the famous ditty “Pop Goes the Weasel” but on this occasion expertly delivered on the banjo. “How Many Sleeps?” is more up-tempo with its use of a shuffle beat and some imaginative bass playing revealing a noticeable skiffle influence.
“Cats and Dogs Are My Favourite People” is a very interesting song title and pays homage to “The 59th Street Bridge Song”, adapted slightly to reminisce on the many benefits of pet ownership. Continuing on the subject of interesting song titles, they don’t get much more bizarre than “Triantiwontigongolope”, a melodic tribute to the poetry of C.J. Dennis, with a staccato rhythm and some interesting kazoo playing throughout. “Can You?” features a clean electric guitar, and some subtle bass playing which leaves the required space for the inclusion of a Hammond organ. This is a superb action song, which I’m sure would be great live or in the classroom.
“Crocodile In The Washing Pile” has a great up-tempo drum pattern; with captivating lyrics used to describe the visit you might expect from a number of animals when you live in a zoo. Shades of Bob Dylan are on display here with the harmonica taking centre stage. “Max the Acrobat”, eloquently describes a circus bat, and its variety of tricks. A sparse ukulele introduces the song, along with some solid bass playing and a hypnotic tambourine. “Chloe’s Fright” is both surreal and ambitious, as it explores a child’s night-time fears. The vocals here are really quite haunting as they scrutinise the hidden depths of a child’s imagination, from ‘flying platypuses with horns on their wings’ to ‘monsters with sharp shiny teeth’.
Last but certainly not least comes “Dirty Dog Ditty”, which introduces an expertly played didgeridoo courtesy of the very talented Lucas Proudfoot. The song provides a new departure in style, boasting a somewhat funkier feel. It is also great to dance to, with the inclusion of some clever percussion underpinning a hypnotic reciprocal vocal. This song really is Brett Campbell at his best, in both musical style and delivery.
Brett Campbell is an artist who writes songs about the every day experiences of children, and he does so in a simplistic, measured and imaginative way. This album may not contain the most lavish of productions, but it more than makes up for it with the strength of the content on display. The songs are melodic, tell a story and are easy to dance to. Furthermore, many of the songs would be more than suitable for use in the classroom, or at children’s parties.
Brett Campbell - great live, even better in the studio!