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Jessica Campbell: The Anchor & the Sail (1-2-3-4 GO!)

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Caught between pop and a twang place, Nashville singer-songwriter Jessica Campbell gives us a sophomore album that accomplishes everything that Taylor Swift's bland and inexplicably popular music does, but with more character and charm. Campbell writes near-perfect blends of power-pop and country, and sings them in a gorgeous soprano that is rich and warm, seasoned with just enough chirp for cuteness.

The title track is a sweet and melancholy letting-go number with rock guitars wrapped around plaintive country-folk, expressing how you want to be a good person at the dimming of romance but can't help feeling selfish. "Gone" carries on the theme, but finds hopefulness and a renewed sense of self after heartbreak.

With "Be You," Campbell gets whimsical and positive. Chiming guitars impart an impish pop mood. One is tempted to label the message—you are your own story in the making—as naively Pollyanna-ish, but it's impossible not to fall under its twee spell. "My Patchwork Heart" is another charmer about romantic repair, while "Sunnyside" further explores Americana-tinged pop-rock, with a catchy guitar figure and slightly gospel-style, ready-for-a-sing-along vocal hooks.

Well-produced and highly polished, the material could also be played in an intimate acoustic setting. And although some Nashville songsmiths sound like they are trying to sell songs to other artists, Campbell sounds as if she wants to keep them for herself.

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