Liverpool's finest Candie Payne is set to release her much anticipated debut album `I Wish I Could Have Loved You More' on May 21st.
It's an album full of darkly seductive pop diamonds. The title track blasts off in confident style, with an incessant melody, pounding drums and a soaring vocal. Next, `Why Should I Settle For You' draws you into one of the album's many dark corners. Such as `A Different You', a big brash epic - all brooding drums and percussion that makes Candie's lyrics of lost love sound all the more fragile and beautiful. At the other extreme `By Tomorrow' canters along like a three-minute white knuckle ride. And in an album full of broken hearts and fallen angels "Turn back now" ends the album with the devil right on the doorstep.
In all, `I Wish...' echoes the timelessness of Dusty and the modern blues of Portishead, an underlying eeriness and even loneliness in three minute kitchen-sink dramas reminiscent of classic British cinema or a Smiths' monochrome single sleeve.
Candie Payne's debut album I Wish I Could Have Loved You More has something of a 'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning' quality about it, not only in terms of the musical reference points (in her MySpace page, Payne notes Dusty, Peggy, Nina and Billie along with Serge Gainsbourg and John Barry) but also in terms of the end-of-a-relationship emotional terrain. As such, it does a pretty good job of dancing away the heartache, but is perhaps as not as ambitious as it might have been.
In theory someone with the moniker 'Candie Payne' should be a porn star; in practice, the singer is bingeing on break-up more than selling seduction, but the two are hardly mutually exclusive, as tracks like 'By Tomorrow,' 'Take Me' and 'All I Need' demonstrate. The latter track is one of the album's strongest, but it is 'A Different You', reminiscent of the Drifters and the Brill-Building era, that most clearly reveals the album's intent. Although the retro-1960s approach is hardly an original one, there are a lot of nice details in the songs, from the Godfather horn in 'Why Should I Settle for You' to the crazed organ in 'Hey Goodbye'. It's just unfortunate the production isn't warmer and more atmospheric.
Judging from Payne's heavy touring schedule at present, we may well be hearing more from her. Hopefully her future work will be a little less restrained and respectful, perhaps drawing on some of her more outré influences, such as the Band or Jonathan Richman. Harsher souls might think she needs to get over it, but perhaps it would be fairer to say that Candie Payne's I Wish I Could Have Loved You More is not alright, but it's okay. --Tim Nelson
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