CANDACE WOODSON : Perfect (Self Released)

One time southern gospel singer, Candace Woodson has been on the soul connoisseurs radar for some time now. We first heard of Candace back in 2015 when she released a lovely, contemporary soul groove, ‘Free’ (not the Deneice Williams’ classic, by the way). We learned that the lyric really was intensely personal. Candace, you see, had, thankfully, just been given the all-clear from a life threatening cancer…. she truly was “free”.

That  freedom (and relief)  has allowed Ms W to pursue he musical career with a new vigour and over the last few years we’ve enjoyed a series of tasty singles and a 2019 album; now she presents us with another  fine album which underlines what her singles and previous LP indicated – she’s a real soul contender with a voice that betrays her gospel apprenticeship.

The 11 track ‘Perfect’ album contains several previously released singles including  her catchy ‘Midas Touch’, the Philly-flavoured dancer ‘Steal The Night and her cover of Valerie Simpson’s ‘(Trying To Be) Perfect’ for which the album is named.

Those three tunes show the lady’s versatility – a lively dancer, a serious “message” ballad – Candace delivers ‘em all with aplomb. If you want to shake a leg, here you can trip to ‘Step To This Love Song’ and ‘Dancin’’  – both titles self-explanatory really. ‘Better Together’  channels a Chic disco feel while ‘She’s Back’ is tougher altogether – listen up to the Curtis Mayfield inspired bongos. ‘Spread Love’ is another dancer – here though Candace goes back to her gospel roots with the message in the  music.

Ballad wise, ‘Perfect’ is still a winner – the lyrics so relevant today, while ‘Mr Right’ is another, powerful, building performance. That leaves the gentle jazzy beater ‘Better Days’ and a wonderful Tom Moulton mix of ‘Midas Touch’.

So yes, plenty of variety . Maybe that’s down to a varied list of producers including mix master Nigel Lowis, Julian Jonah, UK soul entrepreneur Gary Van Den Bussche and Candace herself but there’s a real unity too – down to Candace’s proper old school soul voice. Out August 8th.

(BB) 4/5