Ted Russell Kamp - California Son
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California Son (PoMo, 2024)

Ted Russell Kamp

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

On singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist's Ted Russell Kamp's (TRK) 14th full-length album, he pens an homage to his adopted state and to a huge cadre of musicians that he invites into his circle for "California Son." The album does contain more co-writing than Kamp has done in the past. Most of this was crafted in his home studio, The Den. TRK's steady gig is the bassist in Shooter Jennings' band, so it makes sense that he collaborates with those bandmates. Kamp also plays electric and acoustic guitar, Dobro, Hammond, Wurlitzer and percussion throughout the album.

Opening "California Son" is purely autobiographical, setting the uplifting, celebratory theme for the record, the only one where southern California Americana stalwart and frequent patron of the famed Cinema Bar in Culver City, plays guitar. Whelan is the co-writer and harmony singer on the abstract blues of "Roll Until the Sun Comes Up" and barrelhouses on piano on the "Upside to the Downside," about the working musician's outlaw and partying tendencies.

Kamp displays his bass chops on the thumping, chorus filled "Hard to Hold," a first time co-write with Eli Wulfmeier (Nikki Lane, Leroy from the North). "One Word at a Time," penned with Jenny Van West, features Kamp on B3 and spiraling lead guitar from Bart Ryan while the jangling, jubilant "Shine On" features the core of I See Hawks in L.A., marking one of the last recordings of the late Paul Lacques.

Both "Ballad of the Troubadour" and "Firelight" are collaborations with Shane Alexander, the former bearing a folk sheen with Matt Lomeo's harmonica, with the latter even more so, with some fine acoustic picking from Kamp and harmonies from Alexander and Justine Bennett. By contrast, "Miracle Mile" with Mike Dawson rocks hard. The cosmic country, replete with pedal steel "High Desert Fever," penned with Ted Wulfers, is a true standout. In symmetrical fashion, Kamp closes with a snappy rocker, his original "Every Little Thing."

Put this one at the very top of Kamp's catalog – great songs, stellar musicianship,and above all a comprehensive view of the current southern California state of Americana.

CDs by Ted Russell Kamp

California Son, 2024 Down in the Den, 2020 Walkin' Shoes, 2019 Flying Solo, 2016 Night Owl, 2013 Get Back to the Land, 2011 Divisadero, 2007

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