Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Conchita Campos' dusky voice leads a great collection of genre-spanning songs

February 23, 2010

I hate funk. The wah-pedal guitars and syncopated bass note  sound cheesy to me. It is a deficiency in my music criticism that I will freely admit: I don’t get funk, and as a result I hate hearing it. The fact that Conchita Campos is able to make “Lately” an enjoyable funk song for me is a testament to her songwriting skill. The fact that she placed it as lead-off on the album is a show of guts, especially considering the rest of No One Really Knows has little to nothing to do with funk.

But Campos shows that she has guts all throughout the album, from artwork to songwriting and back. The solid-black CD case features nothing but the words “no one really knows” on the cover and the spine, the titles of the songs, her website and copyright information. That’s it. It’s pretty attention-grabbing. It’s that stripped-down, raw aesthetic that carries over to the music on the album. The attention-grabbing part carries over pretty well too.

Other than the funkadelic “Lately,” No One Really Knows is a largely subdued affair in mood and tempo. There are tons of genres features here, but it’s all held together by Campos’ excellent low voice. Her clear, dusky voice rings true on the let’s-get-it-on R&B slow-burner “Now and Then,” which eviscerates other “soul” singers who smack of cheesiness. “Silverline” adds a distinctly Spanish feel to the proceedings, resulting in a Bossa Nova-esque track. “Not Today” is a Jack Johnson-esque, head-bobbing beach pop song.  “Ease My Mind” is a downtempo song reminiscent of Portishead, while “On and On” is a little more upbeat but still evokes the Bristol-based threesome.

There are tons of genres represented here, but Campos pulls them all off effortlessly. The album flows, almost inexplicably at times, due to the strength of the compositions and the underlying themes and moods that tie the songs together. Campos has an amazing voice and a songwriting gift, making No One Really Knows an incredibly mature and solid release. If you’re a fan of female vocalists, downtempo music, or the next big thing, you should get acquainted with Conchita Campos. I see no reason why she shouldn’t be highly lauded in the near future.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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