Ghost On The Canvas
Surfdog Records, 2011
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/30/2011
Glen Campbell was an icon throughout my youth, and he always seemed to be popping up somewhere on the musical horizon. A guitar prodigy who spent time with the infamous “Wrecking Crew,” a group of stellar studio musicians, was a Beach Boy for a short time, replacing Brian Wilson, and had many hits spanning three decades. Top that off with movie appearances and his own prime-time TV series. His smooth brand of “California Country” would cross between the worlds of country and pop and top the charts of both genres.
In 2010, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As he came to grips with the reality of his condition, his goal became an opportunity to say goodbye to the world of music.
Ghost On The Canvas is a fine album to mark the end of a highly successful, albeit turbulent, career. Campbell's voice sounds as strong and smooth as ever. The opening track “A Better Place” with just Campbell and an acoustic guitar has a personal feel, and shows just how strong and clear a voice can be at 75. Glen was never a “pure” country singer, but his songs always strongly reflected his country roots. He mixes some excellent steel guitar into the surf-rock flavored “In My Arms,” a song that could easily reside alongside the late ‘60s work of the Beach Boys, accompanied by the guitar slingers Dick Dale and Brian Setzer.
“Any Trouble” is another timeless sounding Campbell song, echoing classic tracks like “Galveston” and “Gentle On My Mind.” Campbell and producer/songwriter Julian Greenwood deftly update the sound with some modern touches, but never stray far from Campbell’s core sound.
After a rather troubled decade away from the spotlight, it's good that Glen got a chance to write the final chapter of a fifty-plus year legacy on his own terms. The songs are highlighted by the collaboration with contributions from Paul Westerberg and Jakob Dylan, among others. The result is a great album full of heartfelt and honest musing of the past, and hopeful optimism about Campbell's uncertain future.