Iain Campbell – “I’m Still Here”/”Winter” – Singles Review
Chills…that’s the way you want to start-out a listening experience. It’s rare but it’s always an amazing feeling that courses through your entire mind, body & soul when you find music with true texture and atmosphere that surrounds & envelops you – and that’s exactly what we’ve got here today in review with the brand-new instrumental singles from Iain Campbell. “I’m Still Here” is packaged with another new tune from Iain called “Winter” in a set together; excelling in composition, structure and purity in sound – Campbell gets emotion across crystal-clear through the insightful ways he’s written & recorded these two songs, and every note in his performances truly counts for something special along the way.
First off…the end conclusion of listening to these two songs was that they indeed both have a supreme amount of spirit; both “I’m Still Here” and “Winter” approach their composition & melodies from opposite ends of the earth it seems…but both find a way to really bond between the threads in the emotion and style in which Iain plays. It leads to a cohesion you can feel exist between the two-songs and an identifiable, recognizable and signature-style you can hear in Iain’s performance…above all things, that’s what impressed me perhaps more than anything else. The instrumental world can be much tougher ground to stake a claim in and make music strong enough or identifiably enough to have people be able to close their eyes and hear you without knowing beforehand what they’re listening to – but I’d 100% argue that Iain has that memorable style and approach you can really hear in the way he plays these songs; seriously…that’s an impressive impact to achieve on the ears in only a two-song listening session but I swear on my stereo that I believe these words I write to be true.
It could be a factor of first impressions, but I felt like by comparison between the two, I leaned more towards “I’m Still Here” in terms of what I like personally…BUT…understand the margin isn’t a wide one. As I mentioned, both songs really have their own style, atmosphere and approach to melody – but as I also mentioned, I absolutely got chills from the moment the piano crept into the subtle electro beginning of “I’m Still Here.” Brilliant piano-lines intersect & weave alongside beautiful additions from the guitars…the electro-elements remain subtle or perhaps non-existent until their impressive return at the end. They never take over what we hear, but the high-frequency elements that climb back into the music in the song’s final minute are absolutely stunning to listen to and the perfect final touch to what’s already been an extraordinary and compelling composition. Iain has completely nailed every aspect of this song from the writing to the performance and made something beautiful, artistic and powerful to listen to. If you know of one of those people out there that says they ‘don’t get’ instrumental music – this is the kind of song I would show them in effort to change their thinking; “I’m Still Here” is emotionally-intense and REAL…the shifts in chords and tones really guide the melody to spectacular twists, turns and stunning results that I can only assume that, you know, EVERYONE would find to be interesting to listen to and have their attention glued to the sounds they hear. It really is that exquisite and that extraordinary in my humble opinion…every sound we hear has such amazing clarity and importance to the melody and atmosphere…such careful movements but such a natural sound overall – all of this really speaks to the gemlike strengths in Iain’s writing and immaculate execution of his ideas.
“Winter” in my opinion, even with its more accessible sound & tones, still asks a bit more of the listener in terms of following Iain’s movements and trusting he’s going to deliver that satisfaction once again. There are a few seriously contrasting chord/tone switches that last only seconds but will sometimes have you wondering if he got to the right spot at the right time…but again, I think if you listen closely (0:43/3:09)…you’ll hear that these could indeed be stylistic choices-made and not mistakes. In that sense, I salute Iain for stepping outside what might be typical in search of something that is recognizably different and unique unto his own. Overall, Iain plays “Winter” with brighter-tones…and like a sunrise, this song continually spreads its light over the landscape until all is uncovered; it evolves and moves in what sounds almost like three separate chapters bound together expertly. Transitioning through subtle breakdowns and a beautiful dreamlike-flow, “Winter” moves quite gracefully with a notable classical influence. I felt like each time it evolved to reveal another part or addition to the writing or mix, “Winter” got continually more inventive and stronger…though I can’t deny that switch around the 1:35 mark is a seriously powerful and memorable highlight along the way. Personally I loved the way that Iain lets these parts drift into the air and dissipate naturally before launching into the next part of the song…I felt like that additional space really led him to even more clarity and emotion that we as listeners are certain to absorb.
Both of these tunes really do showcase a TON of skill in composition, writing and execution…both produced like musical-diamonds, sparkling and stunning as they play. I’m a massive fan of instrumental music as many of you know…and I can’t even begin to recommend listening to Iain Campbell strongly enough to you all, though I’ll certainly try…this guy has an extreme amount of heart, passion and genuine talent that make for an incredibly satisfying and memorable experience. I’d happily listen to anything from this guy and believe we’ve definitely stumbled upon a potential world-class artist with an original, artistic & recognizable approach/sound that resonates with emotion and radiates authenticity.
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