Candythief
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Candythief

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

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Technicolour Wilderness is one of these rather beautiful surprises that are occasionally sprung upon you. In this case, an album and band that appeared all bedraggled and unannounced on my doorstep begging for attention before ending up taking over my stereo and heart for days at a time. Despite releasing a mini album on Fence, gaining plaudits, radio airplay and celebrity fans in the form of Yo Yo Ma, the world acclaimed cellist who organised the music for Barak Obama’s Presidential inauguration, Candythief sneaked in well under my radar until they arrived uninvited with this rather splendid long-player.

From the opening notes of ‘Foreign Sands’, a stunning piece of catchy folk-pop, full of infectious melodies, with fiddle and boisterous percussion to the fore, topped of with Diana de Cabarrus’s distinctive, warm vocals, to the gentle, uplifting closer, A Good Day’, Candythief display an unnerving knack for a killer melody, with plenty of twists, turns and thorns, developing a simple palette of basic colours and textures to push the boundaries into something more wide-screen, vivid, ambitious and, well, technicolour.

‘Entente Cordiale’ incorporates an Easternn-European feel with a polka rhythm in the verses and the vocals switching from French to English as effortlessly as the songs time signatures change. At points it’s elegant and understated, at other points soaring and swelling. The lyrics are bittersweet, angry at times, resigned at others, particularly when de Cabrrus sings

When I let you screw me
Just to keep the peace
It was a point of no return.

‘Number Five’ has a really melancholic, even eerie feel at times but it’s a gorgeous song with an inventive structure and spacey mix between the instruments and vocals. ‘Junk’ racks up the tension with a dense, textured atmosphere leavened by a sweet, sweet chorus, at points seductive, at others implying a sense of threat.

‘Maria’ has a slow build-up. It’s a haunting song with a fairytale feel to the words and imagery though one that’s more Brothers Grimm or Angela Carter than Disney with its theme of domestic neglect and violence. The pretty, intricate music accompanies lines such as ‘Were you still alive when your head hit the stone / At the bottom of the stairs?’. ‘Alphabet’ has a subtle, stripped down feel, with a great sense of rhythm and a soaring climax while the fragility of ‘Dry Land’ is offset by the crisp percussion and de Cabarrus’s beautifully sung lines about the inadequacy of communication:

My notes are crumpled out of shape
And I’m restless to the bone
But there’s nowhere else to go.

The song contains some delicious vocal harmonies. In contrast, ‘Lost And Found’ is a spectacular, dreamy instrumental, meshing acoustic guitar, fiddle, bass and washes of cymbals into a rolling and rocking whole. ‘The Wedding Dress’ really packs a punch. From its simple, effective beginnings, with a breathy vocal full of rich evocative imagery where

My mother took her wedding dress
Packed it up that day
She sold the reminder of the promises they made.

to the last notes, it’s a thrilling, engaging song and narrative, again full of joy and pain, punctuated by musical ebbs and flows.

‘Ghosts At the Feast’ is pretty epic, both musically and lyrically. Beginning with a gentle, infectious guitar line and punchy rhythm, the lyrics suggest that real history lies not in grand narratives or the splendour of big buildings – ‘These faded castles and grounds / Will never flesh our bones’ – but in the stories of ordinary lives lived. It develops into a noisy, chaotic freakout, taking on the weird psychedelic folk of the late 60s and early 70s and giving it a renewed vigour as it threatens to collapse in on the centre before shifting off in new directions, totally messing with my head. It has an exhilarating, trippy feel. Final song, the aforementioned ‘A Good Day’ brings a sense of closure to proceedings with its cathartic, warm sound.

Technicolour Wilderness is a superb piece of work, eleven songs full of verve, imagination and beauty that really hits home. It has moments of real elegance and joy, tempered with a darkness. Over the album the moods are not just black and white or the grey areas in between but a vivid explosion of colours, emotions, textures and atmospheres. Wonderful and beguiling, gorgeous and terrifying, full of twists and turns but always enchanting and engaging. - Is This Music?


Technicolour Wilderness is one of these rather beautiful surprises that are occasionally sprung upon you. In this case, an album and band that appeared all bedraggled and unannounced on my doorstep begging for attention before ending up taking over my stereo and heart for days at a time. Despite releasing a mini album on Fence, gaining plaudits, radio airplay and celebrity fans in the form of Yo Yo Ma, the world acclaimed cellist who organised the music for Barak Obama’s Presidential inauguration, Candythief sneaked in well under my radar until they arrived uninvited with this rather splendid long-player.

From the opening notes of ‘Foreign Sands’, a stunning piece of catchy folk-pop, full of infectious melodies, with fiddle and boisterous percussion to the fore, topped of with Diana de Cabarrus’s distinctive, warm vocals, to the gentle, uplifting closer, A Good Day’, Candythief display an unnerving knack for a killer melody, with plenty of twists, turns and thorns, developing a simple palette of basic colours and textures to push the boundaries into something more wide-screen, vivid, ambitious and, well, technicolour.

‘Entente Cordiale’ incorporates an Easternn-European feel with a polka rhythm in the verses and the vocals switching from French to English as effortlessly as the songs time signatures change. At points it’s elegant and understated, at other points soaring and swelling. The lyrics are bittersweet, angry at times, resigned at others, particularly when de Cabrrus sings

When I let you screw me
Just to keep the peace
It was a point of no return.

‘Number Five’ has a really melancholic, even eerie feel at times but it’s a gorgeous song with an inventive structure and spacey mix between the instruments and vocals. ‘Junk’ racks up the tension with a dense, textured atmosphere leavened by a sweet, sweet chorus, at points seductive, at others implying a sense of threat.

‘Maria’ has a slow build-up. It’s a haunting song with a fairytale feel to the words and imagery though one that’s more Brothers Grimm or Angela Carter than Disney with its theme of domestic neglect and violence. The pretty, intricate music accompanies lines such as ‘Were you still alive when your head hit the stone / At the bottom of the stairs?’. ‘Alphabet’ has a subtle, stripped down feel, with a great sense of rhythm and a soaring climax while the fragility of ‘Dry Land’ is offset by the crisp percussion and de Cabarrus’s beautifully sung lines about the inadequacy of communication:

My notes are crumpled out of shape
And I’m restless to the bone
But there’s nowhere else to go.

The song contains some delicious vocal harmonies. In contrast, ‘Lost And Found’ is a spectacular, dreamy instrumental, meshing acoustic guitar, fiddle, bass and washes of cymbals into a rolling and rocking whole. ‘The Wedding Dress’ really packs a punch. From its simple, effective beginnings, with a breathy vocal full of rich evocative imagery where

My mother took her wedding dress
Packed it up that day
She sold the reminder of the promises they made.

to the last notes, it’s a thrilling, engaging song and narrative, again full of joy and pain, punctuated by musical ebbs and flows.

‘Ghosts At the Feast’ is pretty epic, both musically and lyrically. Beginning with a gentle, infectious guitar line and punchy rhythm, the lyrics suggest that real history lies not in grand narratives or the splendour of big buildings – ‘These faded castles and grounds / Will never flesh our bones’ – but in the stories of ordinary lives lived. It develops into a noisy, chaotic freakout, taking on the weird psychedelic folk of the late 60s and early 70s and giving it a renewed vigour as it threatens to collapse in on the centre before shifting off in new directions, totally messing with my head. It has an exhilarating, trippy feel. Final song, the aforementioned ‘A Good Day’ brings a sense of closure to proceedings with its cathartic, warm sound.

Technicolour Wilderness is a superb piece of work, eleven songs full of verve, imagination and beauty that really hits home. It has moments of real elegance and joy, tempered with a darkness. Over the album the moods are not just black and white or the grey areas in between but a vivid explosion of colours, emotions, textures and atmospheres. Wonderful and beguiling, gorgeous and terrifying, full of twists and turns but always enchanting and engaging. - Is This Music?


really can’t think of much to compare this to, so I think just listening to the songs below and judging for yourself would probably be the best route. Musically, there’s all sorts jammed into this album – folk (sort of), cabaret (here and there), a little bit of swing, some indie, some, er, well, a little bit of almost everything really. It’s chock full of dramatically sawed violins and wink-and-a-nudge accordions, but there’s still enough ballsy rock ‘n’ roll in the undercurrents to make this a lot more than another pastiche of some imagined indie band who ran away with the circus.

Dianna dresses her songs up in shades of Jacques Brel and Neil Hannon theatricality, but the lyrics tend more towards the dark humour of the former than the whimsical fancy of the latter. For such an old-fashioned album (evocative of an imaginary time and place perhaps, but strangely nostaligic nevertheless) the tales told are themselves really quite modern. In fact, this could easily read as the diary of a modern girl-about-town in many ways, just one with genuine wit and intelligence instead of the usual obsession with shopping and shoes.

I really do like Technicolour Wilderness actually. It’s just… and odd record, I suppose. It has a tremendous character and personality all of its own, and I find that incredibly endearing for some reason. Add to that the gorgeous instrumentation and I reckon this is a real gem of an album. - Song, by Toad


really can’t think of much to compare this to, so I think just listening to the songs below and judging for yourself would probably be the best route. Musically, there’s all sorts jammed into this album – folk (sort of), cabaret (here and there), a little bit of swing, some indie, some, er, well, a little bit of almost everything really. It’s chock full of dramatically sawed violins and wink-and-a-nudge accordions, but there’s still enough ballsy rock ‘n’ roll in the undercurrents to make this a lot more than another pastiche of some imagined indie band who ran away with the circus.

Dianna dresses her songs up in shades of Jacques Brel and Neil Hannon theatricality, but the lyrics tend more towards the dark humour of the former than the whimsical fancy of the latter. For such an old-fashioned album (evocative of an imaginary time and place perhaps, but strangely nostaligic nevertheless) the tales told are themselves really quite modern. In fact, this could easily read as the diary of a modern girl-about-town in many ways, just one with genuine wit and intelligence instead of the usual obsession with shopping and shoes.

I really do like Technicolour Wilderness actually. It’s just… and odd record, I suppose. It has a tremendous character and personality all of its own, and I find that incredibly endearing for some reason. Add to that the gorgeous instrumentation and I reckon this is a real gem of an album. - Song, by Toad


Candythief used to be Diana and her guitar, the bigger sound they now have, thanks to their growth in numbers, has enabled them to explore and experiment with new sounds which is demonstrated well in this album. I’ve not heard anything like it and it has a totally original sound. You don’t stick music like this in a genre…Candythief are not bound by the whims of the commercial music industry afterall. It’s hard to pull comparisons to describe their music although Diana has been compared to Polly Harvey, Cat Power and Joanna Newsom. She does have a very sexy sultry voice which I’m a complete sucker for so I was hitting replay a lot. ’Foreign Sands’ was one track that grew on me with each listen. A haunting fiddle introduces you to Diana singing ”you are lining your nest, with the feathers that I gave you…” backed with some clever harmonising from Jem. Neck shivering stuff. The album is cleverly paced from the rockier ‘Dry Land’ to the more accoustic sounding track ‘The Wedding Dress’. This is an outstanding album and if you ever get a chance to see them live then take it. - www.folkradio.co.uk


Candythief used to be Diana and her guitar, the bigger sound they now have, thanks to their growth in numbers, has enabled them to explore and experiment with new sounds which is demonstrated well in this album. I’ve not heard anything like it and it has a totally original sound. You don’t stick music like this in a genre…Candythief are not bound by the whims of the commercial music industry afterall. It’s hard to pull comparisons to describe their music although Diana has been compared to Polly Harvey, Cat Power and Joanna Newsom. She does have a very sexy sultry voice which I’m a complete sucker for so I was hitting replay a lot. ’Foreign Sands’ was one track that grew on me with each listen. A haunting fiddle introduces you to Diana singing ”you are lining your nest, with the feathers that I gave you…” backed with some clever harmonising from Jem. Neck shivering stuff. The album is cleverly paced from the rockier ‘Dry Land’ to the more accoustic sounding track ‘The Wedding Dress’. This is an outstanding album and if you ever get a chance to see them live then take it. - www.folkradio.co.uk


Discography

2006 'like/unlike' Fence records (EP)
2009 'Technicolour Wilderness (album)
streaming on www.myspace.com/candythief, www.jango.com/music/candythief, last FM, www.allmusic.com
2012 Partisan
2013 The Starting Gun
www.candythief.bandcamp.com

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Bio

BBC introducing artist Candythief, (aka anglo-euro songwriter Diana de Cabarrus) first emerged in association with Fence records. Drawing on alternative, acoustic, psych pop, indie influences with a touch of chanson, the songs are melody-driven, occasionally theatrical, hopping between styles, and coloured by unusual song-structures. She grew up bumping along pot-holed tracks in Europe's only geographically-accurate desert, listening to Mozart, Dolly Parton and some odd things in between.

Edited highlights so far include live sessions/featuring as download of the day on BBC6 music, radio play from previous releases on BBC radio 1,BBC radio 2, BBC Scotland, a bunch of internet radios; having tunes on film soundtracks, one of which won a prize at Cannes.

On record and live, Candythief is refreshingly distinctive and unusual, supplying an invigoratingly vital alternative version of the female singer songwriter. Solo performances can include cello, guitar, bodhran and loops as well as vocals. She will be touring the current release around the UK and recording a fourth studio album in 2014.

Band Members