Candi Staton – His Hand (2006)

Candi Staton - His Hand (2006)
Artist: Candi Staton
Album: His Hand
Genre: Southern Soul, Rhythm & Blues
Label: Honest Jons Records
Released: 2006
Quality: FLAC (image+.cue)
Tracklist:
01. You Don’t Have Far To Go
02. When Hearts Grow Cold
03. It’s Not Easy Letting Go
04. His Hands
05. How Do I Get Over You?
06. You Never Really Wanted Me
07. I’ll Sing A Love Song To You
08. In Name Only
09. Running Out Of Love
10. Cry To Me
11. When Will I?

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The soul singer’s comeback album– produced by Mark Nevers (Lambchop)– features a track written by Will Oldham and covers of songs by Merle Haggard and Charlie Rich.

This isn’t quite the tribute to my favorite unheralded Southern soul demigoddess that I was expecting. In the late 1960s and 70s, Candi Staton’s voice boomed with the stylish conviction of Aretha Franklin and the hoarse pathos of Otis Redding. She left her mark on bitterly sad Muscle Shoals sides like “You Don’t Love Me No More” and “I’m Just a Prisoner (of Your Good Lovin’)”, most of which were reissued by Capitol in 2004 as a self-titled compilation. Staton’s extensive catalogue includes disco, Grammy-nominated gospel records, and, in the early 1990s, a club-ready UK top 10 single, “You Got the Love” (only the final song in the Sex and the City finale, like duh!). On His Hands, the 66-year-old diva finally returns to her soul roots.

Staton’s miseries, at least, seem undiminished by time. Her best old songs convey near-Biblical tribulations, often depicting a pathologically penitent woman who begs for the love of her man, confessing her own sins while holding him blameless. In real life, Staton’s trail of doomed relationships rivals Tina Turner’s. Yet in giving husky voice to her powerlessness, she became powerful. On His Hands, the heartbreak continues in a new set of old sad bastard music, notably Merle Haggard’s “You Don’t Have Far to Go” and Charlie Rich’s “You Never Really Wanted Me”. Staton’s bombshell voice remains singularly affecting, if a little more rehearsed, ranging from raspy overblown notes to frayed whispers.

The voice is willing, but the musical backdrop is weak. Producer Mark Nevers, of alt-country collective Lambchop, and Staton’s band, which features a few of her family members, surely had the best intentions. But the horns, female choirs, and clichéd licks of His Hands sound a little too slick– think Blues Brothers 2000– where Staton’s first couple of albums clawed through veins with tragically self-abasing passion. The inclusion of four Staton originals doesn’t help matters, though they’re not much more pedestrian than the Will Oldham-penned title track. “His Hands” is a leisurely waltz that ballasts its arty ambitions with clumsily incongruous lyrics: “There were a lot of things in his touch/ Sometimes the slightest whisper, oh, it could hurt so much/ I could feel him coming nearer, his little noises and such”. The strain behind that final rhyme is almost audible.
by Marc Hogan

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