Glen Campbell

See You There

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Ghost on the Canvas was designed and promoted as Glen Campbell's farewell album but, unbeknownst to all who were not in the studio, the country legend also recorded a bunch of new vocals to old hits (plus a couple of curious deep cuts) during those 2011 recording sessions. Producers Dave Darling and Dave Kaplan then took these vocals, added new instrumentation, and released the whole shebang as 2013's See You There. Darling and Kaplan may refer to the Rick Rubin/Johnny Cash playbook, but See You There isn't an exercise in noir nostalgia. They've stripped away the gossamer strings, sometimes adding no more than a guitar ("Rhinestone Cowboy," where the impression is Campbell strumming along himself), but usually working in an army of guitars supported by sensitive keyboards and steel guitars, maybe the occasional Dobro or fiddle. Compared to the classic '60s and '70s recordings, these are spare but they're not stark; they're artfully dusty. Usually, the songs sound different but feel the same, which means attention is drawn directly to Campbell's voice, which is considerably weathered, showing the signs of his age. He can still hit some impressive notes but they're individual moments -- during the quiet stretches when he's not reaching for the glory notes, his age is quite noticeable. To an extent, there's a bittersweetness to hearing an aged Campbell revisit his younger self -- a melancholy Darling and Kaplan are willing to emphasize -- but no matter how carefully constructed this whole enterprise is, See You There doesn't carry the same weight as Ghost on the Canvas. That felt like a fitting coda to a career; this feels like an afterthought.

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