Vocally Candie Payne comes across as a strapping lass, perhaps with a heavily-dyed beehive and fluttering stuck-on lashes thick with mascara, the kind of nightclub singer with a line in sparkly dresses and an anchor tattoo on her bicep, who doesn’t take any shit from anyone.
She can sound tender, but she can sound tough, and endlessly world weary, as she does on opening track I Wish I Could Have Loved You More, a half regretful, half challenging wake up call. Nothing can match the pumping energy of the third track (and single) Take Me, in which the narrator challenges her man to “take me for life, don’t just take what you need”. You know, somehow, that she�s destined to end up alone after such an ultimatum. Ringing tubular bells and snazzy rhythm section drive the song along magnificently.
Forget everything that�s happened since 1972 (except perhaps Amy Winehouse who is her nearest contemporary) and wallow in a slick, pumping Phil Spector�s Wall of Sound meets Dusty Springfield production, with a good measure of smoke-filled downstairs dive blues stirred in for seasoning.
This reaches its zenith on One More Chance, with its slow, throbbing beat and chiming bells. Payne’s voice soars above the meaty backing track and harmonizing vocals, which make no attempt to hide their origins, as she begs her love to return. These are songs of lost love and a dwindling future, angry and remorseful by turns.
There’s nothing that original here, but it’s a lovely cornucopia, a welcome mixing up of classic musical impulses that produces a result that sounds fresh and oh so welcome. Although the lyrics do stray towards ‘boo hoo, my man done me wrongs’ rather too often for my liking there is a good variety of styles although they never really leave the topic of lost or desperate love, whether it�s in the jazzy By Tomorrow or the mournful Why Should I Settle For You, about the trap of mediocrity and not thinking you’ll every find someone special because you’re not special enough yourself. Payne’s voice on this track is softly caressing, with a subtle languor, the music long, lingering notes and brushed drums, reminiscent of Portished.
It’s nice to find someone tackling kitchen sink romance without a mockney accent or a little girl voice – Candie Payne�s most definitely a grown women who does a good job of convincing you that at 24 she�s been round the block more than a few times. All I Need To Do, where the narrator begs for “just one little white lie” to convince herself she’s still in love, has a poppy, lounge beat, against which Payne’s rich but sad voice sounds desperately controlled.
You may say, does the world need another Amy Winehouse? But in a music scene being cluttered up with Joss Stone imitators I’m ready to welcome more perpetrators of dirty, fuzzy white girl soul. Definitely one to watch.