Isobel Campbell “Bow to Love”

Cooking Vinyl, 2024

Psychedelic folk for a new age.

artwork for Isobel Campbell album "Bow to Love"It’s wonderful to hear Isobel Campbell’s voice again. Her last album, ‘There Is No Other’ was released back in 2020. The Glasgow-born singer-songwriter and cellist delivers a new album of psychedelic folk produced by Chris Szczech in his Los Angeles studio. The collection centres around the issues that are affecting the world. Not just a collection of the woes and wrongs in our current world but Campbell investigates how we can navigate through and out of the mess we have made.

Beginning with the single ‘Everything Falls Apart’, Campbell describes this as “My elegy to the patriarchy”. The music is rhythmic, simple and mesmerising. ‘Do or Die’ continues the mood as Campbell sings, “We are beautiful, unavoidable, undestroyable”, the track includes a stunning cello as the music soars up and away in a dreamy reverence ending “Do or do not, there is no try, it’s do or die”.

The title track may seem like a cheerful tune on the surface but there is an underlying message that love is not the total answer. The Beatles may have sung ‘All You Need is Love’, but this is completely different as Campbell sings “It’s not enough to bow to love.”

The single ‘4316’ gives us a change of pace with a killer hook. This could easily take you back to the days of smiley T-Shirts and chill-out sessions. It is simply wonderful and this song about the onslaught of Artificial Intelligence ends with the words “The emperor is naked, What are you gonna do?”

It may not seem like this is a political album, but issues are raised, discussed and dissected almost subliminally in the background. ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, the mantra for the new century, is a statement against Brexit, when there was so much tension between people and many of us didn’t recognise or understand where so much hatred could boil up in our own backyards.

The brilliant ‘Take This Poison’  resonates through your whole soul. You may sense an uneasy feeling of dread. There is a pulsating noise with what sounds like echoing wood claps. Campbell’s voice pleading and beseeching “Drink it down, Breath out fear”.

Campbell has thoughts about how the future remains unwritten. “I feel like we’re living in some kind of dystopia, but I think it’s up to us what we buy into and what we react to. We do have a choice, even if sometimes we think we don’t. You can still see acts of great kindness. In all the bleakness, that’s what I hang on to. We are co-creators. Where we go next is up to us.

The album concludes with a cover of the Dire Straits song “Why Worry” a fitting end. A faithful and beautiful version which gives hope to us all. Campbell has produced a fine collection of songs for an uncertain new age.


About Andy Short 10 Articles
You would think with all the music I listen to I would be able to write a song but lyrically I get nowhere near some of the lines I've listened to. Maybe one day but until then I will keep on listening.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments