Every once and while I decide to listen to the many albums that get sent our way and I find something, a song, a lyric, a voice, that makes me want to listen to the whole album. Jessica Campbell’s The Anchor and The Sail is a little bit poppier than I typically go for, but it has a Sara Barielles vibe and that’s just fine by me. Honest and clever lyrics here stand out and, while they don’t break the mold in terms of structure or theme, there’s a hook here that doesn’t seem to let go.
The first song, “Time”, starts off the album with a little banjo picking and shows that this isn’t bubble gum pop music. It’s got a little Nashville, a little more honest that something pumped out of LA or NYC. The song is about time being the thing that strengthens the bond between people. “Time makes us stronger.” It’s a love song and one that sounds hopeful. The last track on the album is particularly notable as well. “Doors” is a love song about the future. “When I have a home…” begins the song and it talks about all the things it won’t have, doors, a roof, lights, etc. Essentially, it won’t have anything that could keep that intentionally ambiguous “you” out. “You won’t need directions, it’ll be right where you are.” It’s cheesy, yes. It’s a little cliche, yes. But it feels honest and genuine thanks to Jessica’s voice and the music behind it.
What’s really spectacular about this album is that it’s not a break up album or an album of love songs. This is an honest album. The title track is a thoughtful song about how often we are unable to recognize that we may be holding someone else back. Being the anchor to someone’s sail is not something anyone wants to think about themselves being, but this song does a great job of shining a light on that. “Don’t Call Me” is another song that’s helped by great music and a great voice. This song is a confession of sorts. It’s a plea, “baby, don’t call me./ Baby, don’t tempt me.” She knows that she’d let herself fall into that trap and she’s telling that old flame, “Don’t call me, because I’ll be gone.”
My favorite and perhaps the most honest and surprising song on this album is “Gone”. This song is an honest and eloquent attempt to simply say “my life is better now that you are gone.” The most poignant line is “you had your reasons and I had my own./ Something about you never felt like home.” It’s a beautifully sad song and one that really caught my attention.
While Campbell doesn’t break much new ground on this album, she made a beautiful album. It may seem familiar, but the songs still resonate. It’s not an album that stands out as a whole, but the few songs mentioned above certainly do.