Despite a prodigious recording career - under his own auspices, as the designated leader of the Americana trio Ponticello, and as a steady sideman in Shooter Jennings' back-up band the 357's -- Ted Russell Kamp has yet to attract the kind of attention that would ensure greater acclaim. However, while Kamp may be content to share his work with a limited few, his new outing, "Night Owl," demonstrates the injustice that often accompanies a lack of wider recognition. Simply stated, it's an excellent offering, a set of songs that would likely earn a better known artist the best kudos of his or her career.
Hopefully then, some consolation will be gleaned from the fact that "Night Owl" could help break down the barrier that separates Kamp from the attention he's due. Though he's a veritable one man instrumental arsenal, it's the songs themselves that garner instant attention, each fastidiously tuneful, obviously heartfelt and sweetly soothing. Like Rodney Crowell, to whom he draws obvious comparisons, Kamp's songs tug at the heartstrings, but avoid any temptation to veer towards the sappy or sobering. Consequently, songs such as Smile Alone, Another Love Song, A Whole Lot of You and Me and Santa Ana Winds are mellow and emotionally entrenched without betraying any hint of despair. And when Kamp offers up an amiable ramble, as on Right Down to the Wire and My Songs for You, he belies any notion of ingesting tears with his beers simply in the name of self pity.
Consequently, "Night Owl" stands out as something of a landmark, not to be measured against what Kamp's done before, but rather as a signpost of what to hopefully expect from him in the future. Mainly it's a wakeup call that indicates this particular night is still very young.