Jessica Campbell has garnered critical acclaim, awards, and plum synch placements for the warm candor of her distinctive roots pop. Her stunning new album, The Anchor & The Sail, traces romantic relationships from balmy beginnings to painfully complex ends with bold emotionality. “The album title represents life; there are things that hold us back and weigh us down, anchors…and things that let us move forward, sails. The music on this album represents a reflection on past relationships in light of my recent marriage,” the Nashville, Tennessee-based artist confides.
The Anchor & The Sail was carefully culled from a pool of songs birthed from a flood of creativity. The album refines the whimsical pop of her previous album but also adds elegantly essential acoustic songs reflective of her intimate live shows. Special guest, singer-songwriter Dave Barnes (Grammy-nominated for “God Gave Me You”), is featured on the song “Mississippi.” Throughout, Campbell’s vocals are pristinely expressive, angelic but deeply emotive as she guides us through the peaks and valleys of romance. On the sweetly spare “Gone” she comes to terms with a dead-end relationship singing: You had your reasons and I had my own/Something about you never felt like home/I was afraid that I’d be all alone/My skies are brighter now that you’ve moved on. “This is a song about post-relationship self-discovery and awareness, realizing you are better off moving on,” she says.
The upliftingly tumbling “Time” is about working through the difficulties of a shared life. It gently builds from a sweet plucked banjo pattern to sweeping strings—the lean beauty of the instrumentation reflects the authentic nature of Campbell’s live performance. The taut, new wave hooks on “My Patchwork Heart” are euphoric and charming. “It’s a song about being loved by someone unconditionally,” she says. “I’ve experienced this in the relationship I have with my parents, my husband, and some of my closest friends. They love me for who I am and see me as a beautiful person despite my faults and failures.” Campbell’s vocals flow delicately, rich with winsome vulnerability. She sings: You took the rough around the edges/the tattered and shredded/I don’t know how you did it/I just know when you were through/It all looked brand new.
In the midst of writing for the new album, in April 2012 Jessica signed a worldwide co-publishing agreement with Franklin-based The MWS Group, the publishing company owned by acclaimed artist Michael W. Smith. Campbell previously won “Best Song” in the esteemed USA Songwriting Competition. She’s had a self-penned song cut by Gordon Mote, the 2-time Academy of Country Music Awards’ Piano Player of the Year. She has had songs placed in ABC’s Ugly Betty, CW’s Hart of Dixie, CBC’s (Canada) Heartland, CMT’s Melissa & Tye, and VH-1’s Tough Love New Orleans. Her 2011 album Great Escape climbed to the number 5 spot on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart. She’s been profiled in American Songwriter magazine, Nashville Scene, and Oklahoma Gazette. Brite Revolution says: “Campbell has the ability to turn the sentence of your day from ellipsis to exclamation point.”
Campbell was born and raised in the one-stoplight town of Catawba, North Carolina, where she grew up singing gospel, country, show tunes, and singing in competitions. Jessica recalls belting the National Anthem at ballparks, rodeos, gyms, football stadiums and anywhere else that would have her. “There weren’t many concert opportunities in my hometown, so I made the most out of what was around,” she says. She attended college and graduate school at Middle Tennessee State University outside of Nashville, while continuing her musical journey—writing songs, recording, performing at Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s theme park), singing song demos, leading music at church, and touring.
The Anchor & The Sail was produced by longtime creative collaborator Cason Cooley (Katie Herzig, Mat Kearney, Matthew Perryman Jones, Sixpence None The Richer, Andrew Peterson). Cooley worked with Campbell on her 2009 debut EP and the follow-up Great Escape LP. “Over the last two years, we’ve both grown immeasurably in our careers and it feels like our hard work is paying off on this album,” Campbell says. The two spent six weeks recording the album in Nashville, meticulously tailoring each song’s production aesthetic.
“All of these songs are reflective of my life, from past experiences of heartbreak to the happy hopeful songs reflecting my joy as a newlywed,” Campbell says pensively. “This project is a step forward for me as I continue to grow as an artist and songwriter.”