projects

NERISSA CAMPBELL

 

AFTER THE MAGIC

Nerissa Campbell’s fourth studio album, 'After The Magic', is a moody dreamscape reminiscent of a literary roman-a-clef. It features Balinese gamelan, a jazz trio, pensive solo piano pieces, and fleeting guitars woven together with Campbell’s melancholy vocals.The mix of musical genres explore Nerissa's sense cultural belonging and displacement, and create a unique and surprising album. Not easily classified as jazz, singer-songwriter, or traditional Balinese gamelan, and yet subtly all of these things, Campbell's songs use Balinese gamelan gong cycles and modes, lyrical stories, improvisation and jazz harmonies, and non-vocal compositions that combined create a sense of space and breath. Cycling and repeating, ebbing and flowing, the songs of 'After The Magic' inform and are informed by each other. 'After The Magic' features Gamelan Dharma Swara, Josh Graham (A Storm of Light), Balinese composer and musician Dewa Ketut Alit, and Campbell’s longtime band Desmond White, Matthew Jodrell and Guilhem Flouzat.Campbell received an Australian Arts Council New Works grant for After The Magic.

 

 

BLUE SHADOWS

Nerissa Campbell’s triumphant third album opens with the song “Bottle Notes,” which greets listeners with a little over twenty seconds of acapella before a being joined by a motley assembly of voices and musicians. The song, unexpected and stunning, weaves us through a drunken evening of rapture and desperation. It closes with “Four o’clock in the morning and your life has been spared.” Luckily for us, Campbell has spared us neither pleasure nor pain, firmly setting the soundscape for Blue Shadows as a spectacular treat.

The album is built on the tension of dreams and desires, exploring the stark realities of devotions left unrequited. Similar to Sherwood Anderson or James Joyce who turned their respective cities into characters, Campbell has created an album with New York City as its predominant character. What follows the opening song is “Canal Street,” referring to one of New York City’s vibrant cultural centers, flamboyantly showcasing Campbell’s raw and expressive voice.

Campbell knows the truth contains shadows of darkness. So when she sings of these shadows encompassing the emotive range from despair to tenderness, we are pierced with the poignancy of our mere existence. The album reaches its emotional height with the moody and evocative “Leaving N.Y.” Quiet piano and soft brushes on the cymbal, followed by the bass, lays down the foundation for Campbell's sultry croon “After you where do I go?” Campbell and her band capture the struggle, the desperation, and the anguish of all who have come to New York with dreams of artistic freedom, only to find themselves fighting for survival while the dream remains tenuous at best.

If one thinks Blue Shadows is only a melancholic affair, simply listen to “Powder Burn” or “Don’t Look Back” where Campbell’s voice mischievously coos in simple abandon as the upright bass makes it impossible to resist finger snapping. She coolly sings “let those black birds sing” – but I say silence those black birds and turn Campbell's music up all the louder. The recording is pristine and in those silent moments we begin to comprehend that Campbell has given us a complex and unforgettable masterpiece.

Liner notes by Steven Karl

 

 

 

MUSINGS OF A TELESCOPIC TREE
~The Heartfelt Howl, The Whisper of Love~ 

Nerissa Campbell's music is a fine blend of styles dipped in a smoky beer batter of late night living. There's an easy, swingin' film noir feeling that evokes dark bars and mystery dames and she is wistful and melancholy, like Billie Holiday singing a Nick Cave song. The blues is here, too, but it plays hide and seek with space and sound, creating a depth of feeling beyond the obvious. 

Ms. Campbell has developed a unique and deeply personal writing and performing voice. There is a sincere, raw and open emotional quality to her songs. Her voice shifts in mood and expressiveness, becoming rough and syrupy, plaintive, or smooth and sexy. She delivers a song with the laid-back assurance and attitude of a young Peggy Lee. 

Musings of a Telescopic Tree has the kind of flow often found on vinyl albums in the sixties and seventies. There is an ebb and flow that unifies the entire recording. 

Her two singles, "Bars" and "Pretty" have been played on radio stations in Australia, Poland, Belgium, the USA and in cyberspace. 

“Pretty,” is a dark, folk-influenced psychedelic pop song. Foreboding, but also melancholy. 

And “Bars” celebrates drinking to forget. This bluesy ode to everyday boozing is a bookend to Bertolt Brecht’s “Alabama Song” but instead of a celebration, this cut lurches along as though at the end of a pub crawl. The band matches Campbell’s Mae West delivery with the sound of an old-time jug band riding along in the back of a rusty pickup truck. 

- Truncated notes by Mark Kirby 

"Stranger Lurking" was featured on the sampler for Polish magazine, Audio in March 2009 and "Glasgow" was featured on the Oasis sampler in May 2009. 

 

PAINT ME ORANGE

“Campbell demonstrates an innovative vocal approach to lyrics. She shows insight as a composer and her risk-taking as a vocalist is admirable and appealing.” -jazznow

"Incredible... what a voice!” -radioiojazz 

 

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