Friday, March 14, 2014

Kandle Sings Herself Up In Flames

Montreal-based singer-songwriter Kandle Osborne is further cementing herself as a unique vocal talent to watch. She has an ability to blend blues, rock and theatrics to create some mesmerizing sounds, backed by instrumental arrangements that sometimes complement and sometimes clash with one another.

The images she creates while doing it with her friend Louise Burns and sister Carol Osborne are both visual and visceral. For long-time fans, In Flames is bittersweet in that it is sweetly experimental but also a bitter reminder of how much you might miss her as part of the The Blue Violets.

Kandle is back to set herself afire In Flames. 

As the daughter of 54-40 frontman Neil Osborne, everyone ought to known how versatile Kandle could be a a singer. On the 11-track In Flames, she demonstrates it with a variety of tracks that range from pop to doo-wop as if it came out of the 1940s (before becoming mainstream in the 1950s).

There is no better example than So Bad, which kicks off the album. Despite some rock undertones, the song magically transports listeners to the land of transistor radios and big, bulky microphones. The lyrics roll along with a somber request to be let down so she can move on with her life.

So Bad drifts right into the best-known track, Demon. The song stings in its storytelling with Kandle warning other women away from unsavory characters. She delivers the words so matter of factly, they sound all the more haunting as if sung by someone who is merely the ghost of a victim.

The stripped back acoustic version is almost more frightening in a higher key and significantly more subtle arrangement. Both versions are striking, but I almost find myself gravitating to the crispness in which she sings it in the video. The studio version, in contrast, is much smokier.

Not all of Kandle's demons are men. In Gimme A Pill, she uses her matter-of-fact approach to discuss drug addiction. She doesn't want to face reality anymore. All she wants is to escape the pain with another fix. There isn't any other resolution in the song, which makes it so unsettling and insistent.

Skip the next track, Oh Great, in favor of Control Me, which introduces yet another disquieting demon. Kandle creates some amazing imagery against an enemy best summed up as pride. Although drowning in despair, her character remains detached from the world and unable to show any weakness.

Not all of the album is so solitarily sorrowful. While Protector is sad, the subject matter remains well outside her control for the first time. Baby might carry the pain of a breakup but it also attempts to rekindle better days. Not Up To Me also settles into a dark and slow-burn resolution over things that someone else has done.

While some might find the content distressing if not depressing, there isn't any doubt that Kandle crafts songs with a potent dose of directness and honesty. She shares her feelings (and perhaps the feelings of others) without a filter. Few people are brave enough to write like that across an entire album.

In Fames By Kandle Burns 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

If In Flames existed in the vacuum of its own genre, the debut might start to eclipse some nines. But the truth is that it doesn't, making the album something of a must-listen while being simultaneously too dark for its own good. There isn't a fun song to be had. What isn't written to be sad still feels overtly  remorseful.

You can find In Flames by Kandle on Amazon. The album can also be downloaded from iTunes. The real question for many listeners will likely be how much to listen to in a single sitting before it becomes too chilling. I don't know. Find her tour schedule on Facebook.
blog comments powered by Disqus