Troy Campbell, the former frontman for Austin roots rockers Loose Diamonds, released his solo debut, Man Vs. Beast, on his own M. Ray label in 1999.
The son of a Kentucky truck driver and a Korean mother, Campbell didn't pick up the guitar until he was 21. With his bassist brother Mike, formed the Dayton, OH, band the Highwaymen, whose music drew influence from such Texas groups as True Believers. The Highwaymen followed their muse to its source, Austin, in 1989, where the group added guitarist Judd Newcomb and changed its name to Loose Diamonds (from a song by Jo Carol Pierce, whom Campbell would later produce for). The group went through several drummers, toured extensively, and recorded several albums of dynamic roots rock. (The New York Times named the group's Fresco Fiasco one of 1996's ten most overlooked albums.)
For his solo debut, Man Vs. Beast, Campbell worked with Americana notables, such as Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jon Dee Graham (True Believers). Two tracks feature vocals by Patty Griffin. The solo effort represented a more understated intimate effort than his work with Loose Diamonds.