Along the vast and ruined plains of his mind, as the brew in the stills are cooking and his blood is boiling from random shots of adrenaline, Zane Campbell picks up his guitar and heads for the local saloon under a cloudy night’s sky. With a rowdy voice and with chords fingered from the same hands that shaved his rough beard with a rusty razor that same morning, he barrels through the swinging doors, makes his way to the stage and belts out whatever the hell he is feeling.
Welcome to Zaneland.
Point is, the scene is potent imagery for the character portrayed in the CD “Drinkin’ Whiskey,” starring America’s Best Kept American Music Secret, Zane Campbell.
With depth of character, a strong presence and all the confidence of a gunslinger with pearl-handled revolvers, Zane rattles the psyco-billy genre right off the bat with songs like the title tune, the energy-packed “Blind Staggering” and “Made By Steel.” In each of these songs he is total command, muscles flexed and hitting every phrase with dead accuracy.
Even Zane’s softer side has a rough edge to it that drives a heartfelt point home without shedding those plastic tears so many Country performers present in the throes of disillusion. In “Memory” he defines love with quintessentially masculine lines. “Love is a funny thing/Turns the hate to fact/Sometimes you wonder if it ever was/Love/It’ll tell you that the truth’s a lie and a lie’s a truth/That the lie is better than the truth was.”
Truth’s definition plays a big role in Zane’s point of view. His memory, he sings, “does what I want it to do” and he says he loves her when he don’t. He longs for Pirate’s Cove, where he “wasn’t running to or from anything.” The faces from the past he sees are “out of a dream and it’s a bad dream.”
And when Zane is told heaven is living again, he responds, “are you sure, ‘cause it sure feels like hell.”
The stream of disappointment that runs through these lyrics is the sound of a man in conflict, riled with letdown and enlightened by a youth when because nothing was so clear it shone brightly and with promise. So, Zane addresses it all with a tough, leather-covered attitude and a will to go on regardless.
Rarely, these days, do such characters reveal or revel in their own feelings so openly while supporting them with steel-like conviction. Zane Campbell just ain’t afraid of all there is to fear, thus producing songs that strike like bullets and dare, musically, to drag traditional folk and rock through the ruined plains of his mind.
Engineered and produced by Arron Hedges, who obviously has a close relationship with Zane’s dynamics, “Drinkin’ Whiskey” also features Wayne Dean, Rhonda Hill, Montie Cullum and Chris Sherlock. None of them ever attempt to grandstand, providing the perfect atmosphere for the sole purpose of Zane’s compositions.