catalog-no. tx 3020
country/folk - 2001
Everytime Your Heart Breaks (67K)
A Face in the Crowd (83K)
I'm Looking Forward (78K)
See also: Candace Asher's homepage
Candace Asher - a name that sounds
familiar? Not yet? But surely it will be in the near future! With the release
of this Nashville artist's independently produced debut CD, a new genre star
is born. The album confronts the deluge of cookie-cutter and image-heavy country
acts with something remarkable: substance, personal and artistic integrity,
and a collection of touching and uplifting songs about the realities of life.
"CANDACE ASHER" presents music that is shaped and fashioned with a
lot of expertise and craft - 11 songs by a female artist who has no interest
at all in the Barbie-doll aesthetics and fake emotions presented by many mainstream
country acts. Candace Asher basically asks for your attention with some old-fashioned
- artistic and personal - quality. Here's what folk icon Richie Havens has to
say about Candace: "Watch out for her - I have watched Candace grow into
an incredibly dedicated and talented singer/songwriter."
Just like Richie Havens, singer, songwriter and guitar-player Candace Asher hails from the state of New York - from the Catskills, to be precise. Maybe this kind of rural upbringing with a more liberal social background explains her closeness to what could be termed the more "enlightened" side of country music. Just listen to how "CANDACE ASHER" combines elements that might not be considered compatible anymore by the more conservative strategists of the country music world: a voice with country inflections and the attitude of a strong and self-assured woman and author. An artist who's not at all closed towards pop influences, but whose tastes are sophisticated and marked by a sense of honesty, craft and quality.
This puts Candace Asher in a fine line with some of her idols and contem-poraries: Rosanne Cash, Kathy Mattea, Kim Richey and Mary-Chapin Carpenter. Especially Mary-Chapin Carpenter's more rocking and "uptempo" side seems to have been an influence on these 11 songs. Candace does not claim to be an innovator, but all of her songs have a core that is authentic and passionate - something that the Nashville country establishment does not seem to care a great deal for these days. Buzz McClain from the Washington Post puts it this way: "Candace brings to her music the authenticity lacking in most - heck - all of today's country pop. She sings from somewhere most of us refuse to acknowledge, or have covered over to keep from feeling. There's stark honesty here, gliding on velvety melodies that catch the ear and warm the soul. She's put her heart in it, and in doing so, touches yours." A quote that speaks for itself.
In the late 1980s Candace Asher - inspired by the early work of Joni Mitchell - went to New York City and became a part of the city's club scene. That's how she connected with Richie Havens. Some of her early songs received solid airplay on some folk and country stations in NYC, but in the mid-90s Candace decided to move to Nashville. Not an unusual step for an up-and-coming singer and songwriter with country pop leanings from the Northeast. But the timing was not perfect. The assault on the rootsy side of country pop by the Nashville establishment had already begun.
But Candace Asher is not the kind of person who gives up easily. She played the famous "Bluebird Cafe" many times, and she's a featured member of various associations from the Nashville music world. The noted BBC Channel 4 TV program "South Bank Show" even featured Candace next to Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, Suzy Boguss and Mary-Chapin Carpenter as one of the most promising and remarkable new female artists from Nashville. The apt title of the documentary was: "Women in Country Music - Naked Nashville". Naked would be a good term to describe the emotional world of Candace Asher when it comes to her music. No falseness or fake emotions can be detected behind the darker feelings she addresses, such as wistfulness and nostalgia ("More Than Just A Vase"), anger ("Thankless Children") or pain ("At The Hands Of A Man").
But her real strengths lie in the more upbeat and rocking songs that features an abundance of elegant and accomplished guitar work. These arrangements call to mind the work of Mary-Chapin Carpenter's friends and alumni John Jennings and Duke Levine. However, Candace's arrangements come from players who are not as well known in Europe yet: Clay Mills, Chris Leuzinger, Eric Silver, Danny Parks. In addition to these collaborations on the musical production front, Candace Asher also enjoys collaborations with other songwriters. On this album, there are a number of co-written compostions - especially with David Lindgren.
What really shines through on this album is the fact that despite all the reflective aspects of her songs, Candace Asher possesses a firmly optimistic spirit. "I'm Looking Forward" could be the title of her personal manifesto. It's a "You've-got-to-fight-for-your-happiness" kind of spirit that runs through "CANDACE ASHER". This attitude does not come from cool deliberation or calculation. It comes from having lived a bit of real life. This honesty and her enormous musical talents make up the fabric these 11 songs are made of.
Candace Asher's songs and their remarkable qualities have been getting noticed and honored in Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia. Great tunes like "A Face in the Crowd", "One Tender Tear" and "Slow Dancing" have received lots of airplay and scored high in the EMS charts (European Media Services). In Scandinavia, Candace made her European performing debut at the Storegut/Hovleriet festival in Norway. In previous years, this festival was headlined by progressive country acts like Carlene Carter and Rosie Flores.
Candace Asher's star is clearly on the rise! And it will shine brightly on her upcoming European tour in 2002.