Since announcing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2011, Glen Campbell has undergone one of the most prolonged public farewells in popular music. 2011’s rock-leaning Ghost on the Canvas, his final album of original material, was followed by 2013’s See You There, Campbell’s final re-recordings of his Sixties hits. Along the way, the Rhinestone Cowboy completed an extensive worldwide Goodbye Tour with its accompanying documentary film and soundtrack album, the latter of which featured “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” the singer’s last moment in a recording studio.
Adiós, Campbell’s final studio album, is a loving selection of handpicked songs mostly comprised of personal favorites Campbell has never before had the chance to record. Aided by his family and longtime collaborator Carl Jackson as producer, Campbell delivers stirring, compassionate renditions of country/pop standards from songwriters like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Fred Neil, with a full third of the LP written by Campbell’s most famous collaborator, Jimmy Webb. Webb’s contributions include the title track, originally recorded by Linda Ronstadt, which serves here as Campbell’s heartbreaking parting words at the record’s conclusion.
“Adiós” is just one of several vocal performances, recorded in 2012, that find Campbell using his withered voice to extract deep emotion out of this well-chosen material. Sung by a struggling Campbell, songs like “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Arkansas Farmboy” and “Am I All Alone (Or Is It Only Me)” assume a newfound gravitas. “Have I lost your love, or have I lost my mind?” he sings on the latter, transforming the previously unreleased Roger Miller song into a devastating personal exploration of dementia.
Interspersed, however, with Campbell’s finest
performances are several moments that fall short on a record that occasionally
feels like a forced final effort. The overly polished studio veneer that runs
through the album does no favors to renditions of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s
All Right” and the George Jones weeper “She Thinks I Still Care,”
both of which come across as sterile retreads. Ultimately, though, it’s
Campbell’s voice, still nimble and newly haunting in its frailty, that makes Adiós a worthy conclusion from the legendary singer.