The CandyRat musicians usually work solo and acoustic, so this electric quartet came as a bit of a surprise. It appears that the label's branching out already. If so, they've made a great choice in Andrew White, who's lyrically and musically a bit like John Martyn. As with the rest of his labelmates, though, White certainly knows what the guitar was made for. There's a back history here, as the guy first appeared, after busking in New Zealand, on the highly uneven Narada label, a New Age imprint perhaps best, and most regrettably, typified by the uber-sachharine David Arkenstone, Yanni's soul brother. White in fact partnered with Arkenstone for their Islands release. Hmmmm.
Since then, he's issued several other CDs, a couple of them instrumental, until deciding to pursue a vocal path. It was good move, though his fans will have to dial back their stringed expectations (nonetheless, the guy is a very daunting player). Vijay Novak wields some great colorative keybords while Steve Gillis (drums) and Shaun Sommer (bass) carry the rhythm section. Nothing roars—would you expect that of the label? It ain't Century Media!—but a fair degree of intensity builds in cuts like Tears of Grace, attaining to an irresistable beat—again, very Martynish. In I Believe, a protestative path is adopted, a cry against tyranny and war, brutality, all of which should be thrown over, the composer makes clear, for the redemptive power of love.
It will be interesting to see how this goes over and whether or not CandyRat has indeed taken White as the staging for a side-splinter effort to begin to capture back some of the territory the charts have been sanitizing rock and roll through. Windham Hill attempted such a divergence and fucked up horribly, bringing the label to ruin...but then, groups like Dots Will Echo were rank amateurs compared to White, so perhaps we're onto something here. If so, and if Walk in Light can break into the charts, it may also help bring wider attention to the instrumental side of the label, killing two musical birds with one stone and upleveling the audience…which is what all art should do.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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