Artist: Candice Night
As the “Night” in the Renaissance- influenced band Blackmore’s Night, lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Candice Night shares the spotlight with her husband Richie Blackmore, the former guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow. On “Reflections”, her first solo album, she ventures forth to explore diverse new musical territory that showcases her remarkable voice and stylistic range. In Blackmore’s Night, Richie writes the music and arrangements while Candice focuses on the lyrics and woodwinds. However, on “Reflections” she does it all, with surprising and superlative results.
While the music does exhibit the aforementioned diversity, there are some common threads to be found on a thematic level. Relationships, love, or loss of love are subjects that Candice waxes poetically and soulfully about on a number of the songs. In her words: “I tend to be a bit of a romantic so love is very important to me. Not even strictly the love I’ve experienced but the fantasy of it, the loss of it, the hope of it.” When asked to define the album in three words, the words she chose were: “haunted, romantic, and escape.” These words do indeed go a long way in describing the overall feel of the music.
The CD gets off to a strong start with “Hush The Wind”, signaling that this is not necessarily going to be a medieval folk rock album in the vein of Blackmore’s Night. This is, in fact, a perfect pop song with a slight country influence that wouldn’t be totally out of place on a Dixie Chicks recording, especially with Candice’s lovely multi-tracked harmonies. Cinematic strings and jangly guitar create an atmospheric soundscape for lofty vocals to ascend above. A good indicator of the emotional power of a musical composition is if it gives you goose bumps – and this piece did, the first time I heard it.
Retaining a bit of the country vibe, the next tune, “Gone Gone Gone” rocks out in a style that brought to mind KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree.” I should mention that references to other songs or artists are solely to give readers a general idea or something familiar as a reference point. Candice has her own distinctive sound and style that adapts remarkably to multiple genres. Speaking of which, the song that follows, “Black Rose” switches gears to a melancholy ballad with a tinkling music box-like motif and string section featuring an exquisite violin solo by Blackmore’s Night member Gypsy Rose (Elizabeth Cary). Incidentally, this was the first song Candice ever wrote with lyrics and music combined, way back in 1995. There is also an evocatively beautiful music video for this song available for viewing on her website and youtube.
In what is perhaps the greatest departure on the album, “Dangerous Smiles” is a techno rocker with electronic percussion and trippy vocal processing – easily the edgiest piece on the CD, as well as a sterling example of Candice stretching out and showing her versatility. The extent of her range is brought into even sharper contrast in the next song, “For You,” which treads ground more familiar to Blackmore’s Night fans on this lilting Celtic-tinged tune. “Call It Love” harkens back to the beginning of the album as a pop-rock ballad with bit of country influence that could easily attain recognition as a contemporary radio hit. Another song that could well become a favorite is “Robin Red Breast” which opens with harp and woodwinds and evolves into a wonderfully wistful bit of storytelling reminiscent of “House At Pooh Corner” by Kenny Loggins. As the CD heads into the home stretch, a further musical surprise is in store on “Alone With Fate”, revealing yet another side of Candice’s musical persona as gypsy violins and traditional instruments create a melancholy eastern European atmosphere that is unlike anything heard thus far. The final track is a string-laden interlude with melodic wordless vocals, entitled “In Time” that brings the album to a dramatic conclusion.
Although written descriptions about this recording can merely provide a rough sketch of the artistry contained within, they can hopefully share a glimpse into the incredible talent and scope of this gifted songstress. Being a fan of Blackmore’s Night, as well as having reviewed their excellent “Autumn Sky” CD, it is gratifying to see Candice Night step out and create a solo project that is truly a “reflection” of her impressive abilities. The album is lavishly produced and takes the listener on a journey where what’s around the next corner is sure to be as unexpected as it is delightful.