Candice Sand - Against Concrete Walls (2014)

Candice Sand
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I almost succumbed to the temptation of beginning this review of Against Concrete Walls, the recently released EP by Canadian Candice Sand, with a dig at the twin terrors of the Great White North, Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke. However, that would reaching for the low hanging fruit. They’ve suffered enough and Sand definitely deserves a better fate because Against Concrete Walls is a solid effort.

Candice Sand brings a wealth of training and experience to this project. She was a highly decorated child performer in Canada before attending college, where she first studied opera and then jazz and other contemporary vocal styles, such as pop, R&B, rock, blues and country.

I almost succumbed to the temptation of beginning this review of Against Concrete Walls, the recently released EP by Canadian Candice Sand, with a dig at the twin terrors of the Great White North, Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke. However, that would reaching for the low hanging fruit. They’ve suffered enough and Sand definitely deserves a better fate because Against Concrete Walls is a solid effort.

Candice Sand brings a wealth of training and experience to this project. She was a highly decorated child performer in Canada before attending college, where she first studied opera and then jazz and other contemporary vocal styles, such as pop, R&B, rock, blues and country.

Listeners will hear the results of all of that experience on Against Concrete Walls. “What U Do 2 Me” is a track that fuses blues, country and rap. The tune is a duet between Sand and Canadian rapper Choclair. The combination of Sand’s youthful but rangy vocals and Choclair’s languid vocal delivery and slick word play is effective because the two engage in a conversation that actually reveals a conflict. Sand ignores the warnings and falls hard for this guy and desires exclusivity. Choclair? Not so much.

“Oh Darling,” is a country pop ballad that gives Sand a platform to showcase her ability to handle the three minute pop ballad. The track has all of the pop elements including a simple yet infectious melody and a power ballad hook that Sand delivers with power and passion.

However, the best moments on Against Concrete Walls come in the form of two pop anthems positioned at the EP’s start and conclusion: “Go On,” is a contemporary R&B cut that pairs Sand with fellow Canadian vocalist JDRN. As the title implies, “Go On” is a song of perseverance, and the duet drops the line: “So tired of knocking on the door/So sick of staring at the floor/Trying hard to lift your head up/Keep holding out for something more/So tired of always hearing no/And trying hard to be strong/When every day you’re getting beat  up/But you gotta keep marching on/It’s so easy to give up and be through/But there’s a winner in you.”

Sand’s demand for independence, “I Got This” is Against Concrete Walls standout track – three and a half minutes of self-realization and defiance enveloped by a power hook and a contemporary pop/R&B arrangement.

The three to four minute pop song is not an easy thing to handle, but Against Concrete Walls shows that Candice Sand is adept at creating both pop confections and substance while working against the clock. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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