Album Review: Caamp – By and By

I was shocked when I realized that we have only covered Caamp once on our site. The sound of Caamp seems like someone we would have covered dozens of times by now. The 2019 release By and By is reason enough to feature this fascinating folk act. It’s even available on vinyl!

“Feels Like Home” starts with a plaintive style, bringing forth expressive lines reminiscent of the old days of folk and roots country music. The banjo plinks its way to prominence on the track. Lyrics about living a meandering life in the Shenandoah region feel perfect for the style.

The following “Keep the Blues Away” has a whimsical, enjoyable style to it. It’s a funny track because it’s really about being a fugitive but feels really easy going. The vocal has just enough rasp to seep through the track. But the gently rolling string work is what wins me over every time.

“No Sleep” feels like a vintage rock tune from the early 60s. It’s equal parts Beatles and maybe Chuck Berry? But no matter what you call it, the song has an easy going vibe to it. I think the tone on the guitars makes it feel like a bygone era, even if the lyrics feel fresh and suitably modern.

The next two tracks “Peach Fuzz” and “Wolf Song” both bring a slightly different texture to the album. “Peach Fuzz” sounds almost like a Springsteen tune, what with its 70s rock intonation and chill vocal style. Then “Wolf Song” reinvites the banjo to the studio, expressing a vibe that is more modern folk than anything else on the album. It feels like an adventuring song, which I suppose would be the case if you were around wolves. The two songs paired together show the versatility of the artistry on this excellent folk and Americana album.

“Penny, Heads Up” is the most down home of the country-influenced tracks on the album. The easy going cut time style remind me of growing up around traditional music. When you add in an articulate banjo and the slightest harmonies, the song makes for the best track on the whole album and one of the best folk tunes to be released in 2019. The bass line makes my heart swoon…

From first listen of “Wunderbar” I was blown away by the incisive writing style. The opening line about saying you love someone without meaning it cuts right away. It’s one of those sophisticated folk songs that you just don’t feel like you deserve. But here we are. I think the best comparison on this one is actually Neil Young. The sophistication oozes on the versus, then the “love and grace is what we need” on the chorus begs that we all sing along. Amen to that one, brother.

The penultimate track “By and By” is the title track. It’s a fantastic song with shades of the disparate voices of John Denver (blame the WV reference) and even a dash of Ray Lamontagne (blame the rasp). It’s a really wonderful song with a nice mix of strings and vocal quality. The melody is unique but feels sufficiently timeless. I dig it.

The final track “Of Love and Life” feels like a departing philosophical statement, almost a benediction. The melody feels like it could be from an old time hymn. The nostalgic lyrical style is sure to put a smile on a lot of faces. The contemplative imagery is worth a bit of time to take in your environment and enjoy life. It’s captivating.

This album is everything you love about folk music. It includes a range of styles. The killer melodies and thoughtful lyrics make the album worth many listens. While I had to skip a few tracks for the review, there really aren’t any skip tracks on the album at all. Take some time and take in all the songs. You’ll feel really good about the experience. This is not the last time Caamp will be featured on this site, for sure.

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