In 2000 I worked my day shift at The Bull pub in London and set out on my own for a Saturday night. I had a ticket to see Isobel Campbell perform as The Gentle Waves. It was a really small venue that I had never been to before. That night’s special was a shot of Bailey’s of which I had several. The quietness coming from the stage was occasionally drowned out by the bartender making a drink. It was a wonderful night, one of my favourites while living in the great city.
Isobel returns with her first solo album in 14 years. Like that night in London, her vocals are barely above a whisper but emanate quiet power on tracks such as “The Heart of It All” and “Hey World”. What really elevates There Is No Other are the little touches that separate the tracks. “Rainbow” evokes 1960s Californian tiki bars and there is a one person call and response on late album highlight “Counting Fireflies”.
The center of There Is No Other is her cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin Down a Dream”. A drum machine holds down the low end, a synth creates tension while Campbell’s hushed vocal sounds like a lullaby. “The National Bird of India” says “don’t ask questions, he just is”. This is a good metaphor for Isobel Campbell, she just is and continues to create soft songs that that glow with a bright heart.