Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Album Review: Candi Staton - Unstoppable

Candi Staton
**** out of *****

The soul singer Candi Staton's 2014 comeback was titled Life Happens and was a soulful survivors guide to staying positive through tough times. Unstoppable keeps that vibe alive, but also pushes up the energy on all fronts.

Going on her seventh decade recording music Staton is fiery and lets you know right from the drop as "Confidence" sets the tone. Lyrically Staton can not be contained, but it is the electro-funk playing around her that kicks the record into a higher gear. Pumping horns and a locked in rhythm section that just happens to be provided by her sons Marcus (drums) and Marcel (bass) Williams pop and lock throughout the strutting opener.

The groove keeps rolling, in a more relaxed fashion on the head bopping "I Fooled You, Didn't I?" and the smooth and slinky (complete with funky keyboard accents) "Love Is You" is just restrained enough to keep it from the disco realm. The full funk force kicks back in for "It Ain't Over" which is a soul survivor bumper, dedicated to anyone who has ever felt like the world was all against them.

Her positive call for fixing the present "Revolution of Change" uses warbling guitars allowing Staton to stretch out and speak directly to the listener while "Stand Up" continues this call to action but injects more energy into the mix with a faster tempo; however both tracks run on a bit too long with their message of change.The two closing tracks are a bit more effective in this vein with the direct song about domestic violence "The Pleasure's Not Worth The Pain" and her Muscle Shoals retro soul blazer "Can I Change My Mind".

The crisp production was handled by Mark Nevers and things never become to slick as there is always a funky break, trumpet squeal or keyboard bubbling over to keep things unique. Candi has always had an interesting ear for covers and this album is no exception. She and the band give a funky strutting work out to Patti Smith's "People have The Power" turning it into a gospel influenced anthem while she pulls back for a more nuanced take on "(Whats so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" stripping away the rock and her funky players for acoustic guitars and a focus on her vocals. 

Pairing Life Happens with the even better Unstoppable, it is clear that Candi Staton is enjoying a late career renaissance and is in a wonderfully positive place artistically. Her fierce singing, strength and determination shine through even during the darkest of times.
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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