Monday, January 9, 2012

Sister Vagabond reviewed by Steve Jones

Sister Vagabond
Candye Kane Band
Delta Groove Music, Inc.
13 tracks

Candye Kane’s life has been filled with challenges.  Pancreatic cancer, a difficult childhood, a teen mother and more diversity of problems than any one person should have to put up with.  Yet she sings with great aplomb and abandon, belting out one hit song after another.  “Superhero” was her album that really showed she had stepped up her game, and this new one is equally outstanding and poignant, if not even better!

She begins this outstanding studio recording with Johnny "Guitar" Watson's “I Love to Love You,” a sultry and sexy rendition with some wicked guitar by Laura Chavez.  Kanes’ vocals are always a bright spot, being likened by some to being a modern day Bessie Smith.  But while we expect Candye’s big presence, Laura Chavez has completed her coming of age and gives her all in song after song.  She is one of the hottest guitar players out there right now!  This duo could not be more different personally and stylistically- Kane is the ebullient, effusive and outgoing showman while Chavez is quiet and restrained except when her six stringed axe is blazing, which is what she does on each of the tracks.

Nine of the tracks were written collaboratively by Kane and Chavez.  They start off with a 60’s sounding song that could have easily been King and Goffin writing for the Shirelles.  “Love Insurance” is a bouncy track featuring Kane’s vocals and a nice horn section.  She likens love to needing insurance, written when she in dire need of health insurance and she made the leap from health to love in this fun yet poignant track. Irony and humor fill “You Never Cross My Mind”; Chavez delivers a very swinging tune to Kane’s lyrics and plays some excellent guitar while Sue Palmer on keys adds dimension to the cut.  They bring some accordion and horns to “Have A Nice Day”, giving the track a distinctive New Orleans flair (along with more catchy lyrics). There’s a lot of dark and down tempo stuff here, all good and interesting, too.  Excellent song writing and delivery by Kane and Chavez top to bottom on their tracks.

The other covers bear some mention.  Kane does a self-proclaimed greased-up version of the Brenda Lee song “Sweet Nothing”, and sells the sound quite well.  It’s grittier and far further down in the dirt than Ms. Lee could ever take it.  Steve White wrote “Down With the Blues” for Candye and passed away from throat cancer while the CD was being made.  Acoustic, slide and baritone guitars give this a dark sound and Kane’s vocals also get the effect going; a very touching piece.  Jack Templeton wrote the last of the covers (along with Glenn Frey) and James Harman adds some down and dirty harp to this one.  Kane let’s loose and delivers another great song.

This is a superb follow-on to Candye Kane’s exceptional “Superhero” album.  In my mind, both vie for top spot in her repertoire.  Stylistically this is a big deeper and darker, but I can’t decide which I liked better.  Suffice it to say that if you want to hear one of the best female singers out there accompanied by one of the best up and coming guitar players in the world collaborating on lots of really nice original tunes and great covers, get your wallets out now.  Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

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