Like her acclaimed 2006 comeback album His Hands, Candi Staton's latest was produced by Lambchop's Mark Nevers and follows much the same formula of smouldering Southern soul commentaries on the rocky terrain of relationships, tempered with nods to faith-based redemption.
Again, Bonnie "Prince" Billy has written a song for her, "Get Your Hands Dirty", expressing her need for "someone who'll clear trees for me" – typically assertive on an album where she refuses to play the victim. "I know you're leaving me, but I'm leaving you, too," she proclaims in "I Feel the Same", adding: "It's hard to believe all that nothing causes all that pain." In response to implicit queries about her solitude in "Lonely Don't", she offers the razor-sharp riposte, "Lonely may not hold me tight, but lonely don't stay out all night". Nevers wields the essential elements with aplomb: the bluesy electric piano, neat stitches of guitar, the brooding horns that cast shadows over songs such as "Breaking Down Slow" and "I Don't Know", and the swampy funk grooves underpinning "I Feel the Same" and "Who's Hurting Now?". But clear through it all comes Staton's impassioned delivery, her voice, like those of Irma Thomas and Tina Turner, developing extra layers of meaning with maturity.
Pick of the album:'I Don't Know', 'I Feel the Same', 'Who's Hurting Now?', 'Get Your Hands Dirty'