For those of you who still have not discovered the joys of Candye Kane, you don't know what you're missing. She's a throwback to the days when women vocalists didn't compete to see who could end up starving to death first or sound the most like Minnie Mouse.
Instead of some uptight, anal retentive divas getting paid a million a week for singing songs so saccharine they would shame even Donnie and Marie, women sang songs about the bad guy who they loved no matter how bad he treated them, or they broke your heart when they sang about "strange fruit" that hung from the trees of the south.
Candye Kane is like a breath of fresh air that will blow all the twittering twigs off stage without even trying. From the first time I heard her sing on a Ruf Record compilation disc, I've eagerly awaited the arrival of another collection of her songs. White Trash Girl was a great warm-up but I had a feeling she was just hitting her stride. She was starting to experiment with her wonderful voice, using it for more than just power, and was discovering all of its nuances.
On Guitar'd And Feathered, her new release, she takes some large footsteps towards fulfilling that promise. The title is taken from the fact that on each track she is accompanied by a different guest guitar player. From Junior Watson's rollicking work on "My Country Man", Sue Foley's challenge of a solo on "When I Put The Blue On You", to Bob Brozman's gospel tinged National steel guitar on "Jesus and Mohammad" each guitar sets the table for whatever vocal feast Candy is going to provide.
It's a fine table she sets of musical styles and vocal technique. It's one thing to belt out a Blues rocker, but another thing all together to let your voice relax down into a lower register and make it ooze like molasses through a smoke filled room. "I'm Not Gonna Cry Today" is Candye accompanied by Jeff Ross on a Del Arte guitar. It takes a certain amount of courage, and an immense amount of talent to stand that alone in front of an audience, but Candye and her voice are more than up to the challenge.
While surrendering none of her potency she seems to have increased her flexibility when it comes to achieving nuances in mood and atmosphere. Listen to her on the heartfelt "We're Long Ago And Far Away" written by and featuring producer Bob Margolin on guitar and hear how her voice can caress words with a lover's touch.
On one of my personal favourites on the disc, "Jesus and Mohammad" Candye's accompaniment is limited to the playing of Bob Brozman's Steel guitars. But her voice is so textured with gospel feel you don't once notice the lack of other instruments. In fact, the simplicity of just her voice and its interplay with Bob Brozman's guitars are what make the song so effective.
Of course she's still the fun loving Candye Kane that's she's been in the past as she shows on songs such "My Country Man", "Fine Brown Frame", and the tongue in cheek "I'm My Own Worst Enemy". On the latter she lists all of the attributes that end up causing her to stumble and tells all those who might be out get her that they have nothing to worry about, she's the Queen of self-sabotage and knows how to hurt herself far better than any of them could ever figure out.
People tend to get distracted by hints and rumours that surround Candye's past and forget about her music on occasion. The title of the disc Guitar'd And Feathered makes reference to her past while stressing what's really important in her life right now; her music. Candye Kane is a singer of power and potency it's true, but now she's discovering how to use her voice for subtle effect.
She's going beyond being just another singer in pursuit of the brass ring, if she even ever aspired to that. Instead, her focus has been turned squarely on to finding out just what that great voice is capable of. She has always had one of the most powerful voices on the market, but now on her latest release from Ruf Records, Guitar'd And Feathered, she shows an ability to refine it so that the power is now coloured with a rainbow of feeling.
Candye Kane is well on her way to becoming one of the great female vocalists of our generation. She's not just a singer like so many others out there, and that deserves to be recognised. Buy her record and learn just how great a treasure she is.