David Campbell

David Campbell Sings John Bucchino

Luckiest Records
The teaming of David Campbell singing the songs of John Bucchino, with the composer/lyricist himself playing piano, represents a strong combination to delight lovers of beautiful music, subtle lyrics and vocal excellence. It’s Campbell’s first album in about three years and it’s a pleasure to hear the rich resonance of his voice blending joy and heartbreak into each lyric—calling up bittersweet feelings about times good and bad in one’s past—with Bucchino’s simple piano accompaniment abetting the vocals with unobtrusive elegance.

This is an album whose lyrics paint so many word pictures that multiple listens provide added nuances that enable the listener to fully absorb all the emotional peaks and valleys contained in Bucchino’s choice words and Campbell’s pinpoint vocals.

The album includes new versions of three songs Campbell has previously recorded: He does a superb job on “Grateful”—a small masterpiece that expresses joy over the simple things in life, singing with sweet honesty and humility; “Taking the Wheel”—about taking charge of one’s life (“leading life instead of being led … living life instead of playing dead”)—features a propulsive vocal, abetted by a strong Bucchino solo; and “Better Than I” (from the animated film, Joseph, King of Dreams) is sung sweetly and honesty, a simple declaration of surrendering to a higher power or to one’s love—depending on the context (“You know better than I/You know the way/I’ve let go the need to know why/For you know better than I”).

Among the songs not previously recorded by Campbell are several standouts. For example, a heartbreaking “Unexpressed,” about emotions not always spoken, sung with deep reverence, and a soft, bouncy vocal on “Something Spontaneous,” about trying not to lose the spontaneity in a relationship by thinking too much  (“Don’t want to read a romance novel with the shade pulled down and miss the moon …”). “Learn How to Say Goodbye” is about letting a relationship end, told in a series of nature-oriented metaphors (“What kind of toll is it taking [for a hummingbird] to flap so fast/Simply to stay in place/Watching the world slip past?”) and performed with a light touch, but ending with a haunting final note. “Sweet Dreams”—a beautiful story song about dreaming about a better life but not always achieving it—is delivered with a gentle touch that belies the underlying sadness in the song. “It Feels Like Home,” sung in a simple, declarative fashion, is about giving love a second chance (“I only know when you hold me/It feels like home … It seems to me if you never risk you’ll never win”). The stunningly beautiful “If I Ever Say I’m Over You” is about the regrets of a past relationship whose deep emotions still remain (“But sometimes a photograph can make me cry or force a laugh … So don’t believe it’s true if I ever say I’m over you.”).

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
July 26, 2014