KATE CAMPBELL: Rosaryville(Compass) The quote from FlanneryO'Connor on the cover of Kate Campbell's fourth and latest album reads, "Artis something that one experiences alone and for the purpose of realizing ina fresh way, through the senses, the mystery of existence." Campbell'smusic, finely-crafted folk and country-rock songs featuring richly peoplednarratives, rises to that high standard. Often compared to Nanci Griffithand Mary Chapin Carpenter, Campbell creates music that's sweet and strong,her voice true. As the title Rosaryville suggests, Campbell expressesa spirituality influenced by the Roman Catholic tradition, writing of womenand men who've found something to hold on to, a faith in God that sustainsagainst the harshness of life. Especially moving are her tales of a womanmaking Cuban cigars and dreaming of her reunited family, and a man whocreates a rosary of bowling balls in his garden. Songwriters of this depthand sensitivitiy are rare. -- Brian Quincy Newcomb
MULEHEAD: The Gospel Accordion II (HTS) Mulehead plays rockand roll with a decidedly rootsy, country-garage vibe, hinting at "nodepression" musical values that is not too far from the likes of theViolent Femmes and Southern Culture on the Skids. SingerKevin Kerby's view of Southern life includes surreal dichotomies: in histown there's a Baptist church just past the liquor store, and life is lived"between the Holy Spirit and a good buzz." Dominated by party songs anddrunken lost-love ditties, Gospel Accordion also reflects on thespiritual aspects of everyday crises of the heart. "Glad to Be Here" seeksto take pleasure in life itself despite one's existence seeming sotemporary. "Pilate" finds the Roman governor telling his own story aboutoffering his own version of Jesus' crucifixion-- (from hell, of course). And"Get Thee Behind Me Satan" looks at the problem of evil in practical terms:you never quite get what you bargained for. Add to these the comical "CheapRed Wine" and "When the Dope Ran Out (So Did She)," and you've got yourselfa real slice of American life. -- Brian Q. Newcomb

ERIC CLAPTON: Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton(Reprise) This isn't "the best of Eric Clapton," obviously -- it's thehits of Eric Clapton, 1985-1998. Those who've forgotten that Claptonhad hits from '85 to '89 will be reminded of why they forgot: for all theirstadium-sized hooks, "Pretending," "Forever Man," and "It's in the Way ThatYou Use It" testify to the difficulty of translating the music of an artistknown for his blues power and Tulsa shuffle into high-tech bombast. On theother hand, the hits from '92 to '98 testify just as persuasively to thecapacity of cushiony pop to accommodate hard-won maturity. Only theterminally adolescentFew will fail to hear "My Father's Eyes" and "Tears inHeaven" as the humble attempts to come to grips with Larger Issuesto hopeand reach for meaning. that they are, and eEven the two new cushiony-popsongs sound like more than afterthoughts. What doesn't is the Bo Diddleycover and the unplugged "Layla." And ifIf only Warner Bros. had gone backto '83, they could've included "I've Got a Rock n' Roll Heart." --Arsenio Orteza

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