Sometimes the internet works, believe it or not. Snooping around my the profiles of my friends on Last.FM, I noticed one of them was listening to a gal named Candie Payne (official site & MySpace, both with samples). Curious, I clicked through, listened to some samples, and was instantly intrigued. I tracked down her album, I Wish I Could Have Loved You More, and low and behold, I had gotten a recommendation off a music tracking site and discovered someone to get excited about.
Payne is one of those talents that is most easily described by what she makes me think of, as cheap and as lazy as that may be (and usually only surfacely accurate, too). In these term, Candie Payne is a "what if?" What if Portishead had produced '60s girl groups and written all the James Bond themes. Her sound is futuristic and contemporary, but more in an updating of the Wall of Sound with heavier beats. Lee Hazlewood with ProTools. Her vocals are breathy, like a Sandie Shaw or a French Ye-Ye chanteuse. Both girlish and worldly, innocent and wise. (Cross-referencing to Amazon, the album is described there as "a retro-futuristic gem that sounds like the Neptunes collaborating with Phil Spector on the soundtrack to a sixties Kitchen Sink drama." So, I'm not crazy, at least.)
Like the girl groups, while the up-front sound is one of longing and love, the wide-eyed romantic has actually seen a lot with those wide eyes, and there is as much darkness, as much disappointment in men and their manly ways, as there is light and the hope of a better kiss tomorrow. While there is self-pity, yearning, and doubt (the surf-guitared "In the Morning") or recrimination for one's own failings (the title track), there is also the requisite girl power, such as the raised eyebow of "Why Should I Settle For You?" Singing over a melancholy horn sample, Payne may sound demure, but she's not afraid to stand up for herself. Alternately, this track is followed by "Take Me." Built on big-beat sounds, it's a challenge to give the girl more of what she deserves. No more wondering why she didn't love you more, but an insistence that you love her more.
Not that everything is either a let down or a punch-up, there is also true love on tracks like the almost ironically titled "One More Chance" and "Hey Goodbye." It doesn't matter how tough you are, you still want someone to hold you. Even that can be tinged with cynicism, however. The breezy, finger-snapping "All I Need to Hear" is willing to accept love even if its false. Better to have a semblance of it than nothing at all. Hence, the nighttime searching of "In the Morning," which Payne knows could yield less than healthy results. "Different You," built on a rhythm track that is reminiscent of Rita Pavone's "Heart," calls out a fickle lover for his rotten changes, but then explains why Payne isn't running like the wind. (If he hit her, it felt like a kiss--but one suspects Candie Payne would hit back.)
Appropriately, by the final track, "Turn Back Now," a certain resignation has set in. The backing track is simpler, just some softer beats, some piano, but a slow build of acceptance. We know who we are, we know what we did, and hey, it's okay to say good-bye. Or maybe we've figured it out enough not to.
As it stands, I Wish I Could Have Loved You More is only currently available on import. It wouldn't surprise me if that is likely to change as some label out there is going to want their own counterprogramming to Feist (in other words, countering bland-flavored vegan cream puffs with sugared pastry full of gooey goodness that may be bad for you but who the hell cares, life is short, right?) and Candie Payne is more than ready to go. Then again, maybe not, as plenty of other great artists have never been imported. It's up to you, but ask yourself, can you really keep the girl waiting? You're not the only fish in the sea, you know.
Current Soundtrack: the girl of the hour, as well as The Decemberists, The Tain
Current Mood: in love
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All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich