The Courtier's Manuscript
Released in 2002 to an enthusiastic reception in Montreal, the Courtier’s Manuscript is a showcase for Brian Campbell’s poetic and socially-conscious lyrics, distinctly off-beat and impassioned vocals, and intricate fingerstyle guitar. Featuring 14 songs and one poem, five guest artists and an impressive array of subtle percussions and sound-design techniques, this album is an enticing blend of jazz-inflected folk-pop and worldbeat rhythms. Jacket includes booklet with lyrics.
"Canadian singer/songwriter Brian Campbell is from a folk-based background, but is also unafraid to venture into other musical territories. His folk-influenced songs are truly excellent; I hear shades of various artists/bands popularly considered to be folk, such as The Incredible String Band and Nick Drake, as well as yer actual traditional folk music. He also explores a number of other styles, with equal sophistication and talent. If You're Ever Around is like 80s alternative pop, but with a difference, due to its additional meandering psych-rock guitar soloing. Time Leadin' Us On mixes together the music of various folk traditions, from the bluesy harmonica to the African-style percussion. To My Whimsical Love is sunshine pop with brass. Liliane is a classy pop song, a bit 60s, and with brass and woodwind. Sometimes Words blends folk, pop, bass clarinet, spacey guitar soloing and distinctive percussion. As A River Runs To The Sea features ethereal female backing vocals which have an almost choral quality. Plateau Weather Change begins with the sounds of a thunderstorm, and the song itself mixes American folk, world beat and quirky pop. Woman of Desire mixes rock, jazz, hiphop beats and even adds a tuba to all this. Chorus For Eurydice is a poem, with no musical accompaniment. Empty House is an atmospheric song, very well crafted, and impossible to describe in terms of genre.
If the name Hum & The Quick means anything to anyone, sometimes Campbell's songwriting reminds me of them, though he has a different approach to arrangements. A more famous name he is sometimes reminiscent of is Paul Simon. Whilst most stuff here is sophisticated, The Essential Love Song comes across like a comedy song, with theatrical voices over minimal strummed guitar. Whilst it has novelty value, it's definitely not representative of Campbell's music. Elsewhere though, it is clear that Brian Campbell is a talented songwriter with an individualistic and creative approach." - Kim Harten, blissaquamarine.net