On his 2011 self-titled debut, Georgia native Craig Campbell established himself as a modern traditionalist with a strong sense of self and family. Building on the themes that endeared him to country audiences through his Top 20 hit, “Family Man,” and the witty workingman tune, “When I Get It,” Craig stays true to his roots on a new project further defining his relatable down-home sound.
Never Regret, Craig’s full-length sophomore release due in stores May 7, draws on many of the same influences as its predecessor. For Craig, family remains priority number one and songs like the uptempo, sing-along “Keep Them Kisses Comin’,” and laid-back opener, “Truck-N-Roll,” introduce a man whose greatest pleasure is the time spent with loved ones. With traditional country instrumentation full of acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle and pedal steel, Craig delivers a message that life is never as full as when you’re surrounded by those you care most about. The loving, piano-laden ballad “When She Grows Up,” featuring a sweet intro from his young daughter Preslee, points to the very essence of Craig’s message with hopeful, optimistic lines like, What she sees in me, that’s what I want to be, that also touch on what it means to be a man.
Like on “When She Grows Up,” there’s a sense of coming full circle on the album. “My Baby’s Daddy” goes from asking his future wife’s father for her hand in marriage to being a father himself. And on “That’s Why God Made A Front Porch,” Craig examines how a simple spot at home can host the passage of so many meaningful experiences.
Tough times can fall on any family and Craig doesn’t sugarcoat things when it does. The album closer, “Lotta Good That Does Me Now,” is full of regret for one’s actions. Though the situation is dire here, other songs like the sturdy “When Ends Don’t Meet” show the impact a strong support system can have. I lean on her, she leans on me/That’s what we do, when ends don’t meet, he sings gently.
Throughout the record, Craig’s vocals are more seasoned and comfortable as his impressively natural performances recall the easy twang of fellow Georgian Alan Jackson. Craig’s brand of country is greatly influenced by the neo-traditionalists of the 1990s, yet, working with producers Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band) and Matt Rovey, the songwriting carries a very modern edge as well. Songs like the lead single, “Outta My Head” and title track, “Never Regret” blend in big, hook-filled choruses while the playful “Topless,” which Craig co-wrote with his wife Mindy, carries a roadhouse rhythm all the way through to the sunshine-ready bridge.
But Craig’s a country singer to the core. The barroom tearjerker, “Tomorrow Is Gone,” is full of twang heavy guitars and sad laments. “You Can Come Over,” a deeply soulful ballad, deals with the pain of trying to move on with a voice that delivers the heavy weight. Craig delivers on Never Regret, an album that stays true to his musical vision while displaying excellent growth with consistently strong performances.
Key Tracks – “When She Grows Up,” “My Baby’s Daddy,” “When Ends Don’t Meet,” “Outta My Head”