The Fountain

Chet Delcampo

Record Cellar Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Some musicians tend to be very hard to classify, simply because they don't follow the formal rules of music. In the case of Chet Delcampo, it's not terribly hard to classify his music -- but it is a little difficult to get into his debut release The Fountain.

Musically, Delcampo could well be the male Suzanne Vega, albeit without the attempt to be musically cutting edge (and I don't mean that as a slight) or to be socially conscious. He's also reminiscent of a young Tom Waits in the prose of his songs, though he never is so presumptuous to try and copy Waits's style, instead allowing his own natural rhythm and rhyme to carry the lyrics.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Describing Delcampo's style is the easiest part of reviewing The Fountain. It gets much harder when the critic must try and put into words what Delcampo's music appears to be. I mean, it's not pop, it's not country, it's not folk... yet it is all of these things at different times, sometimes appearing to switch gears in mid-song without making it sound like Delcampo's doing a 180-degree turn.

Tricky, no? How else does one explain why tracks such as "Coffee With Tom T. Hall," "Pine Trees" and "Argentina (Comari)" are so damned catchy? How else does someone tell you that a track like "So High, So Cold (for Fred Myrow)" sounds almost like what The Smiths would have sounded like had Morrissey not fronted the group? How else do you say that Delcampo sounds like the second coming of That Petrol Emotion, only at their softer moments?

Okay, hang on... I'm having a Dennis Miller moment here...

Yes, Delcampo is a musical Everyman. Yet this also serves as his tragic flaw on The Fountain. For as much as Delcampo does stretch the boundaries of country-folk music and is able to win people over to his side, it's not the smoothest journey. Don't be surprised if you discover this is the kind of album that you have to listen to at least five -- count 'em, five -- times just to understand where Delcampo is coming from. Oh, sure, the effort is well worth it, but such a time commitment might serve to scare away some potential listeners.

And not everything on the disc works quite as well. Tracks like "Story" and "To Sleep" don't really advance the picture or Delcampo's cause as well, but these flaws, while noticeable, are not fatal mistakes.

Still, Delcampo is onto something with The Fountain -- hell, how many people were won over by Vega or Waits when they first hit the market? -- and he could well become one of the genre's most respected artists in time. The Fountain is a bold first step -- and if he can figure a way to bring his music to the common man, he will become a big name faster than you can say "Luka."

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Record Cellar Records, and is used for informational purposes only.