Craig Campbell follows up his debut country chart single "Family Man" with a self-titled debut album that identifies him as much as a songwriter as a singer. A Georgia native, Campbell has a resonant country tenor-baritone that serves him well. He has taken a lot of songwriting meetings around Nashville, and his name is on all but one of the tracks as a writer, always along with one or two others. That helps him avoid typical Nashville formula writing, but the material is uneven and sometimes idiosyncratic. Two references to dipping snuff on one album is a lot even for a country record these days, and the novelty song "Fish" is a single-entendre joke of the kind that hasn't been heard since that old sophomoric tune "Shaving Cream" -- it's really another word starting with "F" that the singer has in mind, a word that rhymes with "luck." That Campbell thinks the humor in such a number outweighs the vulgarity is supported by the album's relative lack of romance. The opening track, "I Bought It," starts out as a love song, but turns into one of revenge, while "That Going Away Look (About Her)" isn't very female-friendly either. Only "All Night to Get There," the one song Campbell didn't co-write, has anything positive to say about women. On the other hand, he is, as he says, a "Family Man," and there is a ready-made follow-up in "My Little Cowboy." Still, maybe next time it might be nice to have more songs about love and fewer ones about snuff and...fishing.
William Ruhlmann, Rovi