Johnny Cash's 1994 album American Recordings established a simple template for comebacks: Just get back to doing what made listeners fall in love with you, and let the rest take care of itself. (Throwing in some songs by modern songwriters who grew up listening to you doesn't hurt, either.) Glen Campbell more or less follows the same pattern with the optimistically titled Meet Glen Campbell. But where for Cash, getting back to his roots meant getting back to his take on American roots music, whatever the vintage of the song itself, it means something else to Campbell. Before he was a country star, he was an L.A. session legend, and his best-loved country songs ("Wichita Lineman," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix") owe as much to studio professionalism and tasteful interpretation as piercing vision.
Thus Meet Glen Campbell finds the one-time Rhinestone Cowboy bringing in string sections and fussed-over arrangements to back his takes on songs by Green Day ("Good Riddance"), Travis ("Sing"), Foo Fighters ("Times Like These"), and others. There's nothing really objectionable here, but nothing transcendent either. Campbell still has a fine voice, but only his takes on The Replacements' "Sadly Beautiful" and The Velvet Underground's "Jesus" find him mustering much passion. He's welcome to come back, but first he needs to give us a reason to care.