Kandle is moving forward. The golden era-sounding chanteuse from British Columbia is taking the reins of her career and her creative, ambitious visions are now a reality.
This journey began with last year’s Stick Around and Find Out EP but now comes fully formed with her fourth studio record—and first independent—Set The Fire, to be released in spring 2021.
Kandle has long been known for her ability to transmute difficult feelings and situations into beautiful and tragic melodic stories. As a therapeutic outlet, music was always it for her. Yet here, Kandle exhibits a different kind of therapy and healing—a new, stronger way of wearing her heart on her sleeve. “This is the most empowered state I’ve ever been in. So much of my music has been very victimized—I’ve been through a lot. I was really dark and angry, and my writing reflected that,” she says. With Set The Fire, Kandle emerges from a new place of independence and power. “I’m trying to set the fire myself rather than be burned by it.”
This new record familiarly follows a cabaret and rock n’ roll path Kandle has already forged sonically. It’s no lazy qualifier to liken her to Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra—her vocals are deep, feeling like they hold the wisdom and sadness of a thousand women before her.
She studiously pays attention to these legends from a golden era in pop and rock history. While Kandle rarely listens to records after the late 60s, turning mostly to poets and modern giants like Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, merges the past with the present and burns a bright new future with Set The Fire.
This is Kandle’s first independent record. Now, she is free from others’ expectations and the voices that eclipsed hers time and again. The irony of writing and recording an album on her terms just as lockdowns became a worldwide reality last March is not lost on her. “This album was made independently for the first time ever with total freedom, but also at the time where we as a society lost all of our freedom.” The process she says was “nothing but love and support as the outside world was completely falling apart.”
It took three weeks to complete Set The Fire, Kandle says, a process she enjoyed the hell out of. She admits she could spend the rest of her life in the studio, thriving off of the intensive energy to create. For three weeks, she was practically eating, breathing and living music and creativity at all angles. Kandle and her—as he calls him—musical soul-mate British producer Michael Rendall divided and conquered the work.
Set The Fire comes as a perspective shift. Kandle admits this time around, the songwriting process focused on her own perception of self-worth. The recording sessions served to amplify that self-knowledge because Kandle commanded control in the studio without interference from industry types. Rendall, Kandle says, took her ideas and instincts seriously, encouraging her to trust her own vast musical knowledge. This enabled her to produce one of her most vulnerable songs.
“Misty Morning” is a beautiful piano ballad about a time when Kandle first knew real love. She wanted to hide behind big production but this tempered, sparse version brings hard
realities and stories we often tell ourselves right to the fore. Heartbreakingly, Kandle sings the verse, “I felt like just a body since the age of 17.” The track goes through the difficult motions of learning to receive love openly and being loved in return despite her flaws and failures. “Men often have this idea of you as a performer. They think I’m this sexy, powerful rocker girl. And then once I’ve become a vulnerable, flawed and real person, issues arise. This song’s about someone standing by me through the darkest times in my life and being shocked that they could love me through it.”
Elsewhere on the album, “Honey Trap,” featuring the backing vocals of Louise Burns, Debra-Jean Creelman (Mother Mother), and recent Neil Young covers collaborator, Kendel Carson (Alan Doyle), goes through the motions of realizing a relationship is toxic and manipulative and it’s time to take back control. Over her fuzzy, overdriven guitars, Kandle’s vocals are defiant. A darkly, swinging 60s sound is so perfectly captured on the record’s closer, “Vampire.” Kandle sings, “ I may be deadly but I won’t let you down.”
Set The Fire is a beautiful portrait of a journey to rediscovering one’s true identity, innate strengths, personal power, and the confidence that comes with it. How delightfully soul-nourishing.
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