With her newest album Sister Vagabond, Los Angeles-based artist Candye Kane once again sings the blues. Even if you are not familiar with her life’s struggles, from a troubled childhood to recently even fighting pancreatic cancer, her powerful vocals have all the authenticity of a survivor still going strong. Kane’s vocals, backed with clever lyrics and excellent instrumentation from her band, make a solid blues album.
Kane’s versatility as a vocalist shines through in the album’s 13 tracks. With the first two songs “I Love to Love You” and “Love Insurance,” she delivers an aching sweetness that can turn without warning to a passionate howl when she sings “Help me drive my blues away.”
On “Hard Knock Gal,” Kane uses sinister lyrics and a smooth, growling delivery to sketch a picture of the quintessential femme fatale who “loves them and leaves them” and doesn’t “care if she goes to hell.”
As a blues album, sorrowful songs about a lost love feature prominently. With “Walkin’, Talkin’, Haunted House,” Kane uses a moaning delivery and a theatrical performance to sing about a woman who will never get over losing the one she loves. This sentiment is backed with the more traditional “Down With the Blues” that gives the listener a quieter, more somber image of a woman whose only dependable friends when she is troubled are a street lamp and the glow from the moon.
However, Kane counters her gloomier numbers with some truly life-affirming tracks like “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” and “I Deserve Love” in which she croons about how even though the man she loved has “done her wrong” she will still carry on with her life because she deserves something better.
Praise should also go to Kane’s longtime collaborator Laura Chavez, who gives the listener impressive guitar work that brings back memories of greats like Otis Rush and Magic Sam.
With Sister Vagabond, Candye Kane continues the tradition started by older blues singers like Bessie Smith and Koko Taylor of a woman who, though scarred by the hardships of a difficult life, is ultimately a survivor.