Isobel Campbell – Bow to Love

The Glasgow indie staple reckons with the modern world in thoughtful, if slight, fashion

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 13 May 2024
  • Isobel Campbell – Bow to Love
Album title: Bow to Love
Artist: Isobel Campbell
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Release date: 17 May

On the second track of this sixth studio album from Isobel Campbell, she quotes Yoda, specifically his maxim, “do or do not, there is no try.” It's fitting; the Glasgow-born singer, who once put the ‘Bell' in Belle and Sebastian, has liberally sprinkled Bow to Love with a wisdom all her own, one that places emphasis on dancing in the storm rather than waiting for it to pass. Plus, unlike the diminutive, green Jedi elder, Campbell retains not only a sound grasp of subject-verb-object sentence structure but also an astute and dextrous lyrical eye that sees her wittily skewer everything from toxic masculinity to social media, whilst navigating the post-Brexit debris of a politically polarised Western world with humour and optimism.

Thematically, then, Bow to Love is a triumph, a nuanced state-of-the-world reflection; musically, though, it fails to build on the handsome but slight psych-tinged folk of 2020's There Is No Other. When Campbell does make bold sonic choices, such as on the spacey centrepiece Dopamine, you yearn for more of that, and less of the interchangeably delicate instrumentals on many of the other songs. Still, Campbell’s voice remains a welcome balm in terms of both sound and messaging.

Listen to: Second Guessing, Dopamine, Om Shanti Om