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CD Review - Blaine Campbell's The Secret Snowstorm

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Blaine Campbell is a man on a mission - most of the time. For the last few years, when he hasn't been entertaining friends with his home-taped Christmas records and intermittent LA area live shows, he's been involved in politics (including working with former Mayor Hahn, and having been a 2004 delegate to the Democratic National Convention!). For now, politics has taken a backseat to art and finally, seemingly years in the making, Blaine's made good on the promise of his holiday records with the release of his first album, The Secret Snowstorm.

Secret Snowstorm is an extremely ambitious record. Campbell has remarked more than once that his intent is to make the kind of record he wanted to listen to as a kid, and the result is a kind of tour through California's music history, especially that of the 60s and 70s, with Brian Wilson, Paul Williams and, improbably, Jeff Lynne as your guides. Divided into 4 'movements', each 3 songs long, it's a pop symphony describing a day-in-the-life of an unnamed protagonist as he, for lack of a better way to put it, sorts his shit out. It pays superficial tribute to what passes for winter on the left coast, but ultimately, serves to explore the image of California as the home of easy living and, perhaps, describe the loneliness of always being the life of the party. Nostalgic, deeply personal and unabashedly romantic, it's an imperfect but, ultimately, a beautiful debut.