Craig Campbell Shares Gems From His Musical Archives In "The Lost Files: Exhibit A"
The double album, and unique explorations of duality that this format allows, has become ubiquitous in country music. It’s an approach that Morgan Wallen, HARDY, Cody Johnson, and Zach Bryan have all nailed, just to name a few. Craig Campbell puts his own twist on the common concept - and not just because he’s releasing Side A and Side B separately. The Lost Files: Exhibit A, which dropped today, is one-half of Campbell’s personal time capsule. Rather than establishing a specific theme and proceeding to write songs that follow it, as most artists do, Campbell dug up some old gems.
“The plan was built around a double album,” Campbell explained to All Country News. “A lot of these songs were recorded over the last eight years, and they were essentially lost. The record labels that I was signed to may or may not have loved those songs for that particular time. I’m not saying they didn’t love them at all, but they just lived on a hard drive. So they had the potential of truly being lost.” The album art echoes the premise of songs recorded over the years - it displays Campbell’s picture in the form of a collage, utilizing pictures from multiple points in his life. “It just worked,” he reflected.
The selection of tracks also reflects the tumultuous journey he’s been on with numerous record label switches, a “rollercoaster” as he described it. Honestly, Campbell’s idea heavily reminds us of Taylor Swift’s re-recording process after her old record label, Big Machine, sold her masters out from under her. On every re-release, Swift includes a few “From The Vault” songs, essentially tracks that Big Machine never gave her permission to release when the albums originally came out. Not only does this let listeners discover previously unheard gems, it also serves as a bold statement to her record label that she deserves to own and share her hard work.
Campbell has also faced unsupportive, cold labels. “I can count on one hand how many times the executives at my previous record label ever came to a show, or ever came to my house to meet my kids. So it was frustrating whenever they were making the decisions on what music I recorded and put out, when they had no idea who I was. So this record is me. I finally get to showcase Craig Campbell, top to bottom.”
Campbell also aimed to keep a motif of true crime. For instance, he titled the two sides “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit B” rather than Side A and Side B. The collage of Campbell mimics a common motif in such TV shows, a criminal putting magazine clippings together until they find what their victim looks like.
A standout on the project includes “Tractor Songs,” written by superstar Walker Hayes. The “Fancy Like” hitmaker introduced the cut to him during a benefit concert they played at together. Campbell’s smooth, George Strait-like croon perfectly complements Hayes’ signature country-pop penning and production. Once you hear the catchy melody - and identify themes of small-town life, minimalism, and playful flirting in the lyrics - it’s easy to see Hayes’ influence. If you’re just getting into him, he recommends starting with “Church Clothes,” a collaboration with his wife, or “God and the Ground She Walked On.” The latter is a cut from 2014, which has featured in his live shows for years, and we’re so happy it’s finally released!
Speaking of live shows, be sure to catch Campbell on the road - although he’s not sure about a tour at this point, he will have a few live shows. All of y’all need to buy tickets - and not just because he wants to buy his wife a new pool! We can’t wait to see his connection to The Lost Files shine through in concerts. There’s sure to be a newfound sense of freedom and happiness to his performing. Overall, we’re obsessed with the concept and its execution and can’t wait to see what’s next for this creative genius.