For some reason, it's nowhere near well enough landmarked that Ray Charles damn near reconverted country music with his jaw-droppingly soulful renditions of standards and near-standards. If for some reason, dear reader, you're not familiar, grab the marvelous but out-of-print Rhino box Ray Charles: The Complete Country and Western Recordings 1959-1986. Be careful, though, as it may take weeks to recover from such swoonily brilliant readings. After his lead, however, hardly any African-Americans followed in his footsteps, but now Kandia Crazy Horse has taken the mantel…but in a completely different direction, and it's well past time someone did what she's doing.
Her baseline is CSNY, with a very strong affinity for Steve Stills, and I have to say I locate a lot of that esteemed group's solo works in this disc as well: Graham Nash's folky approach, David Crosby's enviable vocals, Neil Young's inventively cool-sided brashness, and Still's street level structures and sincerity. Ah, but, man o man, a good deal of the early Doobie Bros. turn up as well (catch her version of New Kid in Town), blended with Gram Parsons, Gene Clark, J.D. Souther, and others who were not satisfied to let the past dictate the future. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of soul in Crazy Horse's materials, but it's from another borough well distanced from Charles' work. She embodies a hell of a lot more urban grit but balances it beautifully right from the very first track, California.
Then she sends back the gesture so many white groups in the 60s and 70s, especially clustered around The Fillmore, made toward black musics: Lamb, Stoneground, Sons of Champlin, Cold Blood, that groove. Her band carries a pure-dee dusty backroads twang and blazon, and if you want to see the unique twist being taken on things, check out Gunfight at the OK Corral first. I'm damned if I can put my finger on just what Ms. Crazy Horse is doing, but I agree with the promo lit that she's venturing into a "new landscape of country music". A lot of post-punk groups did their best to yank the vibe back up from the bottom of the well it had settled into, never quite succeeding on the popular level, so I hope to hell Kandia gets some good exposure because Stampede is going to have listeners stopping in their tracks and saying "Whoa! What's that??" I don't think this outing, as good as it is, is quite the fullest expression of what she's reaching for, but it's certainly more than enough to warrant avid reaction, and I'm damned sure it'll create QUITE a buzz among pro writers and players…and they'll be waiting with bated breath to see what comes next, just as I will.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles