Johnny Campbell, Avalon. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10

We all search for Avalon, the mythical lost island in which so much history, so much of our own island’s tale is based upon, the chivalric code, the fight against the darkness and evil; it may not seem it but there was a time when we could perhaps hold our heads up high and lead the charge against the legions of hate and wagers of desolation and destruction.

Whilst we can never claim to be King Arthur, whilst the suits of armour have been replaced by the tight fitting constraints of Government idealism and slow eradication of individuality, we can at least look to musicians such as Johnny Campbell and remember that Avalon, once an ideal, can still be a force for good.

It is to the Folk scene that much of that ideal, of taking modern day revulsion to task, exists. It is in the expected that we find the groove of the pleasant and the hard grasp of modern belief being squeezed, that to take us back to a point where decency and outrage of society wrongs were not frowned upon by those that dare oppress; instead they were wary of having a lyrical lashing aimed at them.

Johnny Campbell might describe himself as alternative folk but in his heart is the beat of man angry at the world, that somehow all that was worth fighting for by our grandparent’s generation has inexplicably come full circle and now threatens our peace and spirit once again. To feel anger at this rearing of an ugly, near sighted mind is to be expected, to raise your folk standards to meet them head on is a heart that wants to tear apart such small mindedness apart once and for all.

In the search for Avalon Johnny Campbell has unearthed some gems, Battle of the Roses and Wanderlust kick-off the album with a furious candour of spirit and The Dalesman’s Litany, To The Begging I Go/Levan Polkka and Planxty Katerina gather momentum to the point of industrious pleasure, heart-breaking sorrow mixed with fierce thought and conviction.

To search for the mythical home where heritage and fairness it seems are buried deep in the land, one must look to the future and hope that what we were can once again be regained, not a selfish parable for generations to come to take out pens and swords against but one in which the dreams held dear, the humane, the compassionate and the selfless actions once again shine deeply. An album of virtuousness, Avalon invokes a spirit of nobility and respectability to which we should all play to.

Ian D. Hall