This debut alum from the lead singer and guitarist of the acclaimed Texas band Wood & Fire is a stylistically varied and winning collection of wise and exquisitely crafted original songs. Back Down Home features gripping arrangements that feature everything from banjos, fiddles and pedal steel to saxes, trumpets and a B3 organ while running the gamut from blues and R&B to swamp pop and hints of bluegrass.
Kamel possesses a robust, amiable baritone that dramatically conveys the various degrees of soul-searching, celebration and laconic humor that run through his compositions. The overriding theme herein is all about finding your own sense of place amidst trying and chaotic times.
“Amen,” the opening cut, is a bluesy number with a call-and-response gospel-style chorus that seems to urge listeners to enjoy, and live, life while we can. Like all of these 10 tracks, it was captured on a 16-track, 2-inch tape machine and bristles with spontaneity.
“Slow On The Gulf” and “The Surfer” are colorful songs about Kamel’s beloved Gulf Coast. “Rueben’s Train” is an eerie southern travelogue about a mystery train rolling relentlessly toward an unknown destination.
Though there’s nothing on here resembling pure bluegrass, Back Down Home, coproduced by Kamel and distinguished Texas singer-songwriter Bruce Robison in Robinson’s Lockhart, Texas studio, is nonetheless an irresistible album that makes you want to think deep thoughts and get up and boogie all at the same time. It also established Kamel as one of the latest in a long line of distinct and inspired voices to come out of Texas over the years.