Ghost On The Canvas by Glen Campbell (Surfdog Records)
Glen Campbell is a living legend. He has recorded some of the most timeless songs in a career that has been nothing short of monumental. Now dealing with the threat of Alzheimer’s Disease, Glen Campbell has decided to give his fans a farewell gift – and what a remarkable achievement it is!
Ghost On The Canvas is a masterpiece for any age, a work of sheer artistry that is sure to profoundly affect all whom encounter its glorious refrains. There is a lifetime of experience and wonder brought to the compositions, with many comparing exceedingly well to the Glen Campbell classics of yesteryear. Most of the songs on the album were written by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond with a few guest composers scattered throughout.
A Better Place serves as a stunning introduction to the artist looking back on a life well lived – complete with the triumphs and heartbreaks one encounters along the way. The title track is up next, the haunting Ghost On The Canvas, where Campbell examines the “place between life and death.” A sweeping piece recalling the more timely aspects of Wichita Lineman. Penned by Paul Westerberg, Campbell makes the song all his own and the result is absolutely phenomenal.
Many of the songs have instrumental reveries, tingling your senses like reflective spirits from the past. After the first segue way, the impassioned A Thousand Lifetimes is up next, a wonderful track about a man who has confronted a lifetime of personal demons and has “smashed them to pieces.” “Each breath I take is a gift that I will never take for granted,” muses Campbell during the stunning chorus.
Amazing Grace would sound tremendous on the radio airwaves – a profoundly moving expression of belief and determination that is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. “You’re all that’s in my heart, you know I believe this,” sings Campbell with that legendary voice still majestic after all these years.
In My Arms is a dazzling honky tonk rocker, featuring backing vocals by Chris Isaacs as well as stunning lead guitar work for Dick Dale. And the generation gap is crossed in a big and glorious way when Campbell sings the Jakob Dylan penned song Nothing But The Whole Wide World. Another lovely contribution arrives from Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices, who wrote a perfect ballad for Glen Campbell entitled Hold On Hope.
Any Trouble has Campbell back in the writer’s seat, presenting a grand mixture of the vintage and the thoroughly modern side of the artist. Strong is truly devastating, where Campbell is apparently referring to confronting Alzheimer’s Disease when singing, “As I look into these eyes I’ve known for all these years. I see the first time in my life fear.” While facing the ghosts of an unsure future, Campbell exclaims, “All I want to be for you is strong” – a poignant moment that is as triumphant as it is heartwrenching.
The album closes with the romantic “There’s No Me”, where Campbell sings, “We don’t have to be afraid, heaven is a place for two” – another deeply personal track that is sure to reverberate with all who venture out to give a listen. The song concludes with the lengthy instrumental, with the brilliantly conveyed guitar solos weaving through the piece like the many complexities of the heart.
Ghost In The Canvas presents an artist in his finest hour, leaving a legacy so poignant and powerful that one feels richly rewarded by the entire experience. Other guests who appear on the album include the likes of Billy Corgan, Jason Falkner, Rick Nielsen, Keith Urban and more. Even in spite of all the star power, Ghost On The Canvas is ultimately a final testament to the one and only Glen Campbell – a deeply personal effort that will remain with the listener long after the disc spins to its dazzling conclusion.
With so many artist just going through the motions when they go in to record their “next” album, Glen Campbell created Ghost On The Canvas like his very life and soul depended on it. An unforgettable work and surely one of the very best recordings of 2011!
(Review by Kenneth Morton)
Glen Campbell Surfdog Records Page