Good afternoon and welcome to this week’s edition of Pop Essays, my weekly series of posts where I recast my eye on and showcase some truly great songs and bands from my personal collection in years gone by.
Just before we get down to business, I have got some more regular posts outside of this series coming soon in the next week, so make sure you watch this space for those. For now, it’s onto this week’s essay…
- Artist: Candie Payne
- Song: One More Chance
- Release Date: 27/08/2007
- Writers: Candie Payne / Simon Dine
- Producer: Mark Ronson
- Chart Position: 122
I think anyone who knows me – or has got to know me musically speaking just four essays into this new series of posts – will know that my music taste doesn’t always sit on the mainstream consensus. Hence why Pop Essays exists. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good out and out hit, million seller or radio/chart favourite as much as the next person. I like a good bop to them on the dancefloor also (when they are naturally open of course).
But equally, what I am ultimately drawn to and fascinated by is those shining, but underappreciated gems. Particularly when mining in the corners of the works of artists who are universally well liked in some form or another. Mark Ronson is perhaps the best example of this. Regular blog readers will know that whilst I love a lot of what he has bought out himself or produced for others, it’s not generally what the British public at large would agree is his best work in strictly commercial terms.
So if you’ve come here expecting a thesis on Amy Winehouse’s brilliant but already extensively covered and celebrated Back to Black album, or his worldwide chart slaying but dangerously overplayed ‘Uptown Funk’ with Bruno Mars (I’m sorry not sorry, I still stand by this 6 years on), then I am afraid you’re in the wrong place. I can offer a cuppa and biscuits though. Or my newest lockdown delicacy, a pork scratching.
And I can also offer you my thoughts on a record that few people – apart from internet pop nerds of a certain age like me – know Mark has had a hand in, and for that I say ‘for shame’ thrice over. Sister of Howie Payne, frontman of indie rockers The Stands, and more notably Sean Payne, drummer with the actually brilliant The Zutons, Liverpudlian songstress Candie Payne was an art college dropout who, disenchanted with her visual art studies, wanted to pursue music further.
It was 2006 when she released two buzz singles, ‘By Tomorrow’ and ‘Take Me’, that caught the ear of Sony’s Deltasonic imprint – also home to The Zutons – who signed her on the spot. Her press biography stated that her main influences were 60s pop music, and Minnie Riperton and Roberta Flack, and a pet hate of ‘over-singing’.
Her debut – and to date only – album, I Wish I Could Have Loved You More, named after her first single proper that had been a top 75 hit in May that same year, was full and plenty of those influences, zero oversinging, and was abundant in retro 60s charm, but not in a reductive way. The second single, ‘One More Chance’ – which is where Mark comes into the equation, as he remixed it for single release – is perhaps the best example of this.
A clattering of drums announces a Burt Bacharach-esque intro, all sweeping and swaying strings and brass, and a melody that’s so positively perky, yet undercut by the most beautiful yet melancholic lyrics that are a masterclass in storytelling in song: ‘Today will be the saddest day, because my love has gone away / Tonight will be the longest night, without him by my side’.
And then the huge chorus kicks in that really wins you over, barely a minute into the song: ‘One more chance is all I ask / Darling, say it’s not too late / One more chance is all I ask / Life without you, I can’t take’. What this song does so brilliantly is to capture the rawness and musicianship from the decade, but also the artistry in terms of vocals.
Candie’s voice is so clear as a bell and utterly captivating; it’s got shades of Petula Clark and Sandie Shaw, and even little flourishes of fellow Liverpudlian lass Cilla Black. She delivers it in a way that a more acrobatic singer or those with exaggerated vocal ticks would completely destroy. But in this context, simplicity and raconteuring is what’s needed here and it is the perfect fit for her.
Alas, the only thing that worked against Candie was timing. Amy Winehouse was still in the throes of her Back to Black campaign – not to mention a turbulent media documented struggle with substance abuse and incarcerated boyfriends – and to many close minded music journalists and industry hacks, there simply wasn’t the room for one more retro styled Mark Ronson produced British female artist.
And yet chronologically with this single, she was five months ahead of the launches of Duffy, Adele and Gabriella Cilmi, all of whom were being pitched to try and grab the same audience Amy had acquired – indeed, Adele has gone onto outlive all three mentioned both literally (in Amy’s case) and career wise.
However, being lost somewhere between the zeitgeists is why I’m glad, in a round about way, that I’m able to write with such warmth about a record like ‘One More Chance’ again. What it lacks in universal appeal and commercial power it makes up for in just being a timeless, well written and well sung pop song with bags of appeal and character that means it will stand up well to return plays even when zimmer frames and catheters are on the agenda for me.
Don’t forget to follow our brand new Pop Essays playlist on Spotify, which includes all the songs we’ve written about. What are your memories of this week’s featured song or band? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or message us on our Instagram.