Today, maddeningly slept-on songwriter and local hero of weird country Zane Campbell released his self-titled album, produced by City Paper contributor Travis Kitchens and backed by a band featuring Susan Alcorn, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, and Walker Teret. Go over to Campbell's Bandcamp and stream/download "Zane Campbell" because it's one of the most touching and sad-in-that-way-that-makes-you-feel-happy records I've heard in quite some time. If you're unaware of Campbell's work or want a way into it, start with 'Layaway Plan,' a classic Campbell tune, here given a traditional arrangement as Campbell, in his enunciative croon, details spending Christmas stuffed full of fast food and regret. It's a tragic song about feeling like a fuck-up: "My Christmas dinner was a hamburger and/ An order of fries/ And I distinctly remember it was the coldest day of the year/ Window was all covered/ Over with ice/ And I was thinking, 'I didn't call home to my mother'/ My friends say 'You better, you'll never get another'/ I wanted to tell you, it's not that I don't love you/ It's just that I put my life on the layaway plan."
I know, right? Powerfully sad but also very funny stuff. It's followed by the similarly devastating dead-friends song 'Post-Mortem Bar' and, among others, "Zane Campbell" also features a six-minute plus doom-folk spoken word track, 'Bringing The Boys Home,' about Campbell's brother who was a mortician during Vietnam whose job was bringing dead soldiers back to the family. This guy's got stories and you should listen. Last summer, Kitchens wrote "Old Weird Maryland," an essay in our Big Music Issue detailing the making of the record and celebrated Campbell's special talents ("Zane's music is equal parts Hank Chinaski and Hank Williams," Kitchen says), so go read that, and buy the album ("Zane Campbell" is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify, and the CD version will be available to order the Bandcamp on Friday), the best by far of this young year.