Candi Staton Hallelujah AnywayThis U.S. R & B/disco/gospel artist once more rises to the top of the charts and back onto everyone's radar via the Spanish dance clubs scene to the BBC to England's Christian oriented Cross Rhythms Radio.

Candi Staton
"Hallelujah Anyway" digital maxi-single
Defected Records U.K.

Candi Staton's passionate, rugged voice has traversed from early '70s Southern R & B to disco later the same decade, soul gospel and house in the '80s to an amalgam of all the aforementioned until the present. In one instance of our former rulers having better taste than we Yanks,  she has become a bigger pop among Britons than she has in the U.S., with her '76 "Young Hearts Run Free" and the early '90s remix of her and The Source's '86 gospelly underground joint "You Got The Love" being top 5 pop singles in the U.K.

So, it should be no surprise that the latest lengthening of Staton's already legacy comes from an English label, albeit one founded by Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson (his '80s band, Inner City, had  greater success over there than in the U.S., plus he married a Brit, so who's to blame him for moving?). Even then, there's further back story: the original version of "Hallelujah Anyway" appears on Staton's 2002 album, Proverbs 31 Woman and only this past summer have remixes appeared that have garnered significant European club play, apparently especially by DJ's on the party-hardy Spanish island of Ibiza. More recently, it's received spins on the BBC's pop statiom, Radio One, and made the top 10 on England's Christian-oriented Cross Rhythms Radio, where yours truly found out about it. 

In its first iteration from the previous decade, the song possesses similarities in bass line and other production elements to Robin S.'s international dance/pop smash from about ten years prior, "Show Me Love." It may have been a few years tardy to ride that groove, but Staton, as has been the case with much of her career, sells the lyric, based as it is on a semi-common evangeli-speak catchphrase. If La Candi wants you to hope against hope and hope amid your darkest hours in the only One in whom it's worthwhile to place hope, why wouldn't you, really?

The Larse Vocal Mix and Diector's Cut Signature Praise vocal re-rub give sparkly new tracks to gird Staton's performance, the latter a hairsbreadth or so spacier and percussively tribal than the former. Both actually give an impression that Staton's vocals come from an older source than the first W. Bush administration, as if they might have been taken from one of her classic '70s Flame Records sessions. Honestly, the picture sleeve (such as picture sleeves for digital singles are) lends that impression as well but Staton's voice has aged so well, '72 is about tantamount to '02 with her.

As for the dub versions, Larse sounds to be supplementing the original instrumental track with darker house accents, but even if he's not, he doesn't lean so much on Staton's lead vocals on the Director's Cut. Nether gets very trippy, and both retain the singer's originally exhoratory intent.

Album-wise, the urging of Gorillaz'/Blur's Damon Albarn and others have lately lured Staton back into R & B of the sound and emotional  resonance of her pre-conversion days. What I've heard of it is wondrous, but there's nothing like her plying her pipes to a song that both urge upward praise and getting down on the dance floor.  

-Jamie Lee Rake


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