Isobel Campbell - Bow To Love *Pre-Order

Title: Yellow Vinyl LP

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Release Date Friday 14th June 2024
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Isobel Campbell - Bow To Love 

1. Everything Falls Apart
2. Do Or Die
3. Spider To The Fly
4. Second Guessing
5. Bow To Love
6. 4316
7. Dopamine
8. Keep Calm Carry On
9. Saturday’s Son
10. Take This Poison
11. Om Shanti Om
12. You
13. Why Worry

Isobel Campbell is no stranger to navigating turmoil. On her previous album, There Is No
Other (2020), she re-emerged after a decade of label trouble with a gem of subtly
questing psychedelic folk. Four years on, Campbell spreads her net wider on Bow to
Love, a soft-spun yet sharp-edged set of reflections on modern crises that doesn’t stop at diagnosing the problems: it goes further to ask how we might progress from our tense, conflicted times.
With all the dexterity the Glasgow-born singer-songwriter and cellist is known for, the
result is an album of lambent surfaces and choppy riptides, a deeply personal record for
today poised between hope and despair. “The album is about what we’re all in right
now, and my response to that and my life as a microcosm within that,” says Campbell,
before suggesting how exposing modern horrors might prove purgative. “I think there’s
a quote from A Course In Miracles which says, ‘Love brings up everything unlike itself
for the purpose of healing and release.’ Maybe these horrible things are coming up and
out so we can get rid of them and things can be better.”
Her radar keenly attuned to inequities, Campbell spotlights toxic masculinity on the
luminous ‘Everything Falls Apart,’ it’s circling lilt and warm, fretless bass framing a call
to unmask patriarchal power in readiness for “a brand new start”. “My elegy to the
patriarchy” is how Campbell pitches it, noting how “even the words we use to insult a
substandard man will often blame the woman – ‘son of a bitch’, ‘bastard’.” The
spellbinding psych-folk of ‘Spider to the Fly’ and ‘Second Guessing’ add themes of
“narcissistic abuse” and “repetition compulsion”, lending bite to the album’s take on
Some songs were first conceptualised in 2016, when Brexit and Trump exacerbated
what Campbell describes as “real tension” amongst people. Between its gently jazzy
shuffle and cushioning arrangement, the Yoda-esque ‘Do Or Die’ foregrounds fortitude
in the face of gnawing anxieties. The rainy-day soul-pop of ‘Keep Calm Carry On’
also started in 2016, when Campbell was staying at her aunt’s flat in Yoker and her then-
husband and collaborator Chris Szczech texted her from New York about the Brexit vote.
“Chris was saying, ‘It looks like it’s going to happen’ but I was like, ‘No way.’ And actually
– ‘way’. It did happen.”
Technology is touched on with first single ‘4316’, an almost robo-folk-pop challenge to
the idea of the “transhuman”: the idea that technology might sire a new stage in human
evolution. Favouring “honest, decent communication” over AI, Campbell takes a dim
view of our “friend, unfriend, block, unblock” culture. “I know what I love and it ain’t
that,” she says. “I was talking to an Uber driver the other day and I said, ‘I don’t want to
be living in a video game.’ And he said, ‘Well, we are.’ I feel like I’m offering a human
element in these transhuman days of artificial intelligence.”
The looping sing-song swing of the title track applies that open, complex thinking to
myths about love: “It’s not enough to bow to love” is the full lyric, offering a grown-up
take on the matter. “I grew up loving The Beatles and ‘All You Need Is Love’,” Isobel says,
“but sometimes love’s not enough. Sometimes love can get a bit wonky. Love brings up
everything - good, bad, ugly - and it can push your buttons.”
To close the album, a warm cover of Dire Straits’s ‘Why Worry’ disregards any hipster
disdain for Mark Knopfler’s band to find a core of consolation at the song’s heart. “I
never really bought into all that hipster stuff,” says Campbell. “If something speaks to
me, it speaks to me. My dad had all those records and I would always sing it to myself.”
In making the album, Campbell chose an environment that spoke to her. She recorded
and co-produced the record with Szczech in his studio in Los Angeles, sticking with
what works through the upheaval in their personal lives. “Chris Szczech and I made this
record no longer as a couple. There’s been shit tons going on but then as I tell myself,
things come up to be addressed and dealt with.”
The result is an inquisitive, complex and fully matured album from an artist who has
travelled long and far. Campbell was first noticed as a teenage founder member of Belle
& Sebastian, before she released two dream-folk solo albums under the name The
Gentle Waves and left B&S in 2002. Two records under her own name followed, leading
to a union with late rock-carved growler Mark Lanegan for three albums of

gravel’n’honey Americana duets, where Lanegan would stand aside while Campbell
called the creative shots.
A move to LA and a near-decade of label troubles followed; the latter ended with There
Is No Other in 2020 before – as Campbell puts it – “the world went down the crapper”
for the pandemic. And on Bow to Love, suggests Campbell, the world’s ongoing troubles
are clear. “Anyone with two eyes, a brain and a heart can see that people are struggling,
and I suppose I have a lot of thoughts about that. And it’s this album.”
An album that also, says Campbell, has thoughts about how the future remains
unwritten. “I feel like we’re living in some kind of dystopia, but I think it’s up to us what
we buy into and what we react to. We do have a choice, even if sometimes we think we
don’t. You can still see acts of great kindness. In all the bleakness, that’s what I hang on
to. We are co-creators. Where we go next is up to us.” Mounted with clear-sighted
artistry and care, Bow to Love is a light in the dark of uncertain times.


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