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Extra Hair

Let it Be Its Own Beast

Animal Belly

Whether it's exploring the roots of New Orleans rhythm and blues with Gumbofoot or myriad influences on Extra Hair, guitarist Scott Campbell shows a reverence and passion in his music. His deftness of touch must be inspired by love, for few pickers can pluck strings with such care, and that is one of the recurring highlights of this elusive local release.

   Campbell sometimes shows his influences on his sleeve; his Latin dashes evoke Carlos Santana at his best, for instance, and that's quite apparent on the opus-like second track, "Caravan." And is that a little Jerry Garcia peeking out on "Autumn Wind"? Before mentioning the music writer's requisite third example, let's just go ahead and concede that Extra Hair has heard more than its fair share of "jam-band" labeling. The term has the bloodiest of noses, lately -- and not without reason -- but there's something so inherently sincere about Extra Hair's approach that the term either should be used with respect or not at all.

   Perhaps it is Campbell's deep appreciation for the blues that helps give Extra Hair such a true sound; he is as talented as any Tallahassee guitarist I've heard, and not nearly as much of a showboat as others I could mention. Instead of mugging, Campbell believes in the group process, which allows for great keyboard from Gumbofoot bandmate Trevor Brooks as well as an impressive solo by drummer Topher on "Autumn Wind."

   There are some downers, though, most notably the lack of oomph in the mixing of Campbell's admittedly soft (though very soulful) vocals, particularly on the otherwise melancholy and good opener, "Might as Well Be Me." That's a minor complaint. Let It Be Its Own Beast certainly achieves its own identity, labels aside, and signals an impressive return to town for Campbell.

Animal Belly Records, P.O. Box 16011, Tallahassee, FL 32317-6011

--David Lee Simmons.