Candy Kane’s Superhero was one of my favorite albums of last year, so I was really looking forward to her next album. She released Sister Vagabond this summer, and I was not the least bit disappointed as this is the best blues album I have heard this year.
You will notice that this is Candye Kane featuring Laura Chavez, and with good reason. Laura plays killer blues guitar, and has also collaborated with Candye to co-write 9 of the 13 songs for Sister Vagabond. The rest of the basic line-up includes veteran bassist Kennan Shaw, and rock-solid drummer Paul Fasulo.
The album kicks off with a strong opener, “I Love to Love You” from Johnny “Guitar” Watson. This song is a perfect example of what Chavez brings musically to the band. Her guitar playing has true feeling and emotion, and she is able to play well off Candye’s strong vocals. A+ material here, folks, and a wise choice for a first track.
The other cover tune is Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nothin’s”. Brenda Lee has big shoes to fill, but Ms. Kane does the song well, and it ends up being a lot more interesting (and raw and bluesy) than the original. I wonder if Brenda has heard it.
There are also two original tunes that have not been previously released. One is “Down with the Blues”, which was written by her late friend Steve White. This is a gorgeous acoustic number that is one of my favorite songs on Sister Vagabond. The other is “Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody Tonight” which was written by Glenn Frey and Jack Tempchin. Yes, the same Glen Frey from the Eagles who is still married to a girl I went to high school with. Small world. Oh, and a rocking song with some James Harman harmonica, by the way.
Of course, the majority of the Sister Vagabond is the Kane/Chavez material, and is stylistically diverse (within the constraints of blues, of course). They have figured out how to write enjoyable songs and Candye and Laura have the chops to perform whatever they can write.
They have put together very tight harmonies in “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” and there is a super tasty hook in the closer, “I Deserve Love”. And “Love Insurance” “Have a Nice Day and “Side Dish” are all catchy and listenable tracks.
But my favorite song on the album has to be “Walkin’, Talkin’ Haunted House”. It has great (and seemingly personal) lyrics, but what brings this one home for me is the combination of Candye’s voice (at its best) and the clever craftsmanship of Chavez’s guitar parts and solo breaks. This one is a keeper.
Taking the album as a whole, it is one of the few new releases out there that I can sit and listen to the whole thing without being distracted by songs that songs that do not fit in, or simply are not good.
I heartily recommend that you buy a copy of Sister Vagabond for $9.99 on iTunes. If you are not a blues fan, it would also make a great Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza gift for your true blues-loving friends.