"Whether or not you return,
The moon will rise and the world will turn.
Black crow will fly as the summer burns.
Come back to me again,
So I can step out from behind my windowpane."
- Amelia White, "Windowpane"
Amelia White's Candy Heart is a study in contrasts. Gritty and lovely; rocking and thoughtful; a record that explores desire, sex, fear and worship with poetry, melody and flat-out rock.
The same can be said of the artist herself. Amelia White is the archetypal pretty tomboy, a songwriter who's not afraid to balance scruffiness with vulnerability. And she doesn't shrink from approaching topics like love and loss with both emotion and intelligence.
The Virginia-born White spent her formative professional years living and working in notable music scenes from Boston to Seattle, soaking up regional folk and rock sensibilities along the way. In 1999, she released her debut, the Tucker Martine-produced outing Comes and Goes and followed it up three years later with the notable Blue Souvenirs, a record that garnered notice from press (NPR, Performing Songwriter) and fans alike for its blend of Lucinda Williams-style incisiveness and simple beauty.
After years busking in subways, hitting stages across the country and carving out a career, White settled in Nashville and began to synthesize the best of its rich community of country-infused independent rock.
"Chain smoking, deeply toking all your regrets
Daisy chain of bourbon, a tonic for the hurting
Hanging round your head
You wear it like a pretty jewel
Use it, a seduction tool"
- Amelia White, "Afraid of a Kiss"
She hunkered down in a tiny east Nashville studio with notable producers Neilson Hubbard (Matthew Ryan, Garrison Starr) and Brian Brown (Julianna Hatfield, Tanya Donnelly) to create Candy Heart with a stunning list of Nashville indie A-listers, including guitarist Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin), keyboardist John Deaderick (Dixie Chicks), and drummer Paul Griffith. A slew of friends jumped in to provide vocals, including Mack Starks, Jodi Haynes and Jeremy Lister. Longtime White collaborator Russell Chudnofsky (Lori McKenna) came down from Boston to play guitar.
The resulting record is White's most accomplished yet. In keeping with the contrasts Candy Heart embodies, it's artistically pure while still holding great potential for commercial success. In other words, these are smart songs that also happen to be crushingly pretty and damn catchy.
White stripped away some of the twang that accompanied Blue Souvenirs and added a lush independent pop sound - one that allowed her voice and melodies to flourish within more expansive sonic backgrounds without forsaking its rock underpinnings. White holds true to her rock ethic, but adds a distinctly Southern perspective earmarked by unhurried arrangements and flowering instrumentation. The album calls to mind Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, the Finn brothers and Elvis Costello for its balance of strength, smarts and poetry.
White continues to practice the rock and roll work ethic that she developed while busking in the subways, touring incessantly and gracing venues from intimate house concerts to full-blown rock clubs. She remains a mystery, balancing beauty and aggression, thoughtfulness and ferociousness with an easy grace.
"I used to walk out after midnight,
I used to dance alone
And then one night I heard them coming,
Chewing on bare bones."
- Amelia White, "Snakes and Pushers"
Check out the artist's website:
2. Black Doves
3. Afraid Of A Kiss
4. Snakes and Pushers
5. Candy Heart