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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Life Happens: The Return of Candi Staton

Candi Staton's new album, Life Happens, is a welcome release from the diva best remembered for her classic disco hits, "Young Hearts Run Free" and "Victim" and the '80s dancefloor classic, "You've Got the Love." Ms Staton is, in essence, a soul and gospel singer with a distinctive voice and choice of material, some of which she writes herself.

Life Happens is Staton's 27th album and what she has categorized as the story of her life. Opening with "I Ain't Easy to Love," she shares vocals with John Paul White and Jason Isbell, though goes solo on her 14 other tracks. In this initial song, her voice is re-introduced as a glorious wreck, like Tina Turner's, and equally iconic.

"Commitment" is a country-tinged pop tune as is the slower, self-penned "For Eternity." I especially loved "Beware, She's After Your Man," complete with Candi's campy spoken intro and talk at the bridge. It's very Betty Wright ("Clean Up Woman"). "Treat Me Like a Secret" is written by Staton and a deliciously funky number. "Where Were You When You Knew" is an MOR ballad and "Three Minutes to a Relapse" is a rock number. Clearly, Staton establishes her versatility as a recording artist and does so with great relish on this album.

"My Heart's on Empty" is classic soul. And Candi goes into full-out preacher mode when she finishes off with "Have You Seen the Children?" and "A Better World Coming," seemingly straight from her heart. (She wrote both, the latter song with Marcus Williams.) There is a final bonus track, "Where I'm At," that wonderfully wraps things up.

Candi Staton is a national treasure. And this album is absolutely superlative and definitive. It will be interesting to see where this goes commercially and how this is marketed in the USA. I expect more respectful handling in the UK and Europe. I highly recommend Life Happens to all discerning listeners of popular music. Candi Staton is still the real deal.

Available at on MP3 and cd format. I recommend the latter because of the several pages of liner notes included.

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