The album lights up with The Men’s reworking of songs from their last album; “I Saw Her Face” and “The Seeds” are stripped down from their previous, classic rock incarnations. In “I Saw Her Face”, there is no longer any drumming—only the heat of guitars and harmonizing. Chummy “oh-oh’s” float around, and chords fall into place alongside each other. “The Seeds” is the richest, warmest piece on the album – this is the only song with audible words, and where the acoustic element is downplayed.
The latter three songs are smokier and harder to define. “Water Babies” is a familiar, gentle song whose words you won’t remember but can hum along to. Nothing especially exciting happens in “Turn Your Color”, and maybe the title is a clue: in a forest of timber, they turn through different timbres, without rushing to reach any specific place. “Patience”, the final track, fittingly lingers for six minutes.
There’s a barely discernible lyric in “The Seeds” that sums up the album well: “So the music goes/ Not even background noise.” Words are hard to come by in the songs, and by the end of the album there is no background or foreground noise, just heated and hypnotic strumming. The individual pieces may be largely indistinguishable, but the ambience of Campfire Songs is a richly crafted, textured one.
As winter rounds the corner, there’s something very appropriate about this intimate and undemanding album. You can’t help but accept the invitation to accompany The Men to their cabin upstate, to huddle around and to hold your palms warm above the crackling flames.