Most folks know Candice Night as the vocalist in Blackmore's Night. They are long time purveyors of renaissance and gypsy music for well over a decade now. With her solo album, Reflections, Night shows another side as a composer and performer. I talked with her recently and we went through the album track by track...
Track 1: Wind Is Calling (Hush The Wind)
CN: I was walking through the woods one day. It was just one of those crazy days where you got to hear everything from construction to airplanes going overhead to car horns beeping. It was just too much. So I let everything go behind me - all the phones ringing and everything - and I took off into the woods like I often do. We're lucky enough to live right next to a forest and right on the seashore. As I'm walking through this amazing day, it just sounded like as the wind was going through the branches of the trees and through the leaves - even as I walked along the seashore area where the ocean was breaking on the sand, there was one constant sound. It was just basically that sound of shhhhh, or hushing, or silence. It seemed to me crystal clear that nature was telling us as humans, maybe the best way to answer our problems, or to answer anything would be that state of silence. It was telling us shhhhh, or hush, or slow down. It just sounded like it was the perfect answer at that point, to silence all of the sounds that are brought to us by humankind - all of the noise pollution and the air rage and the road rage. It's too much to deal with where our senses get overly bombarded. To me, turning to nature and having nature actually telling me at that moment to silence my soul, to quiet my spirit, to return to peace and the solitude and serenity that is nature just seemed like the answer to prayers. It really calmed me and brought me back to center and energized me at the same time. It wound up being a very cathartic moment - a lot of revelations went on at that point. I feel in retrospect that if we as humans would listen more to what nature is telling us - that hush or that silence, that sound of the wind telling us to be quiet or to find our inner spirituality, our inner peace - there'd be a lot more healing and a lot more peacefulness that come to us in those moments.
Track 2: Gone Gone Gone
CN: That's my morbid attempt at an upbeat, sort of edgy rock track. It was inspired more by sort of the groove of it. When I was writing that there was a song on the radio there was a song called Black Horse And The Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall. Also, there was a song called Spider Web by Joan Osborne. I don't think it ever got radio play, but I'm a big Joan Osborne fan. I was living a lot with those songs in my head. When I wanted to do an application as far as instrumentation and groove was concerned, I kind of wrote that whole song around that whole groove aspect of it. Once again one of those songs about just spreading your wings and finding yourself - having that courage to take flight and be free to fly. Become yourself and take on the world and anything you want to be and do in the world is out there. To experience all those amazing colors and flavors and tastes - just living the moment for the moment.
Track 3: Black Roses
CN: Black Roses was the very first song that I ever wrote by myself. When I first started writing songs by myself was back in 1995, when Ritchie was playing in Rainbow. When the other band members were off doing their tracks, Ritchie and I would be sitting by ourselves by a big raging fireplace in Massachusetts - this is where the studio was, the big old farmhouse. That's where all the Blackmore's Night songs from the first album came from. At that point I was so excited about writing lyrics. You get that jolt of energy and it's something new and you didn't realize that your life was going to turn this way, where you's actually be writing words to songs. First I was a closet poet, but putting the words to an actual song brought it to a whole other dimension. I was so excited that I became very prolific and I had pages and pages of ideas, and of text, and of poems, and of lyrics that I needed set to music. At that point I was so used to relying on Ritchie to provide the music, I'd never thought to do it myself. I didn't even realize that was an option until I came to him and I said Look, I need some more music for some of these words. I'm really getting backlogged. He said I'm so caught up in what I'm doing right now. Write your own music. That was exactly the push that I needed. I thought Oh, what a good idea!
That weekend we went out and we found, I think in the Pennysaver or something, somebody who was moving and they were trying to get rid of an old piano. An elderly couple was trying to get rid of this piano that had been in their family forever. We brought it to the house and it was so out of tune, but it had this kind of old world-y clunky / honky sound to it. Whenever I would sit down at that piano, all of these amazing melodies would come out. They always seemed to be Eastern European based. I don't know if it's something that came with the piano. I'd like to blame it on the spirit that came with the piano. At one point I was writing. I was sitting in my basement which is very very low lit - just colored bulbs there. I was starting to write a song and I looked up at the window in front of me and I saw the reflection of someone standing behind me. It looked like a man in a brown jacket lit from above. I thought it was Ritchie and I thought he was going to criticize what I was playing on the piano, or at least have some advice about it. But he kept quiet and I didn't hear anything. I looked back up again at the reflection, and the reflection was gone. I finished the piece that I was writing, which wound up being Black Roses. I ran upstairs and Ritchie was sitting on the couch watching TV and I said How come you didn't say anything? He said About what? I said Well, weren't you just downstairs standing behind me? He said No, I haven't moved in like an hour and a half. So there was nobody physical behind me, but there was something. Now, when I go down and play on that piano, we say that "Mr Brown" is standing there and watching over what I'm doing. It was our first video as well.
Track 4: Now And Then (2011)
CN: Now And Then I wrote in 1997, I believe. A close friend of mine who was performing - a girl who was in my band: she was the original rhythm guitarist and singer. I went to see her before she was even in the band. I went to cheer her on for being on stage. She was going through a terrible time. She did her set on stage, then she came over to me and she said Hi! Hope everything's good. I'm going through a divorce! I've gotta go back on stage - I'll see you later! I thought Oh my God! This girl is standing up there, her heart is breaking. She's going through a terrible emotional time, and she's still able to get out there and make people enjoy what she's doing. You wouldn't even have known that inside her, her world was crumbling. I finished seeing her show, we talked for a little while - I was just so absorbed in what she was saying and how she could put on this facade for the world of being happy go lucky when inside it was terrible. In a way it was not only my song for her, but it wound up being a very healing song for a lot of other people who are going through that. I've since found that other people who are going through divorces and break ups and so many other terrible things - they go to this song and it heals them. It makes them feel better. You start to realize that there's more than just what you're going through at that moment. Life will go on and it does get better and you're a stronger person.
Track 5: Dangerous Smile
CN: This song was written to be much more of a haunting type of ballad when I first wrote it on my little haunted piano. What wound up happening was that I felt like we had so many songs that had that instrumentational application to it. If it was up to me, I'd do haunting songs all day long, but I wanted the listener to also have some variety there as well. When I reviewed what I had on the track list, I thought Let's do another upbeat one! We only really had Gone Gone Gone as a more upbeat one, so I felt we needed another injection of something more edgy. At that point I was listening to a Kelly Clarkson song called Walk Away. That's where that kind of instrumentation came from - I was listening to that song and I thought it was so great, so edgy, so punchy - plus I think it's one where I'm able to show my belting voice. A wider range than that whispering kind of whispy vocal that I do sometimes - that I love and I get lost in keeping it haunting and ethereal. There's also this other side to me - a kind of edgier side as well.
Track 6: For You
CN: For You, believe it or not, was written about our cats. We have a very close and spiritual connection with our animals. We had this beautiful Himalayan cat named Bamboozler. We had him for about 9 years and he wound up getting renal kidney failure. It was really devastating. We had to give him injections and subcutaneous fluids, so I had to be Florence Nightingale. I had to be hands-on nurse for this amazing creature. He was an incredibly connected otherworldly spiritual familiar of ours. He had these incredible blue eyes. I always remember these deep conversations we would have just looking into his eyes, and his deep understanding - his soul depth of understanding. It was that heart-wrenching song. It helped us to heal so we could let go but also know that he was still around us and that we would all meet again someday on the other side, just beyond the horizon - just where the sun sets.
Track 7: Call It Love
CN: That wound up being the radio release off of the album as well as the second video. Actually, it did pretty well. It was in the top 10 here - Adult Contemporary on Billboard - which I was amazed at. It was just a song I wrote feeling really good about where I was in my relationship. Also, other friends of mine had finally found their place in their relationships. I found that a lot of people, in the beginning of their relationships, were so afraid to put the word "love" on it. Even though they were feeling all of the emotions, they had that inner giddiness and that wonderful warmth. They almost felt that if they said the word "love" that it would jinx it; it would ruin it. So, they would call it anything else. They would say they found their dream come true or it must have been fate that they found each other. But everybody was afraid to use the "L" word. It's one of those songs where it says it's OK! Just have that reckless abandon to be able to call it what it is. What an incredible feeling when you do find that, and you have the security, that depth to be able to say This is it. I found the right one. I found that person.
Track 8: Robin Red Breast
CN: It's actually my "go to" song whenever it's a really beautiful day. I put the top down on my Camaro and the first song I listen to is Wind Is Calling, the second one is Robin Red Breast. I just put the top down and drive - feel that sun on my face. A lot of times I found that my inspiration from nature also has a sort of melancholy because I know that in this world of environmental problems due to mankind - "mankind" sometimes winds up being an oxymoron - we pump out so much pollution. There are so many issues we have environmentally. A lot of times where I'm raising up on a pedestal how beautiful nature is and how we need to respect and protect it; in the same breath I'm trying to warn people to keep an eye out and to try to be responsible for your own actions. If we continue to pump garbage out there, then we're not going to have these incredible beauties of nature. Not only probably in our lifetimes, but to leave for our children as well.
Track 9: Alone With Fate
CN: That was my Walking into a tavern somewhere in Prague or in Germany and the Marlene Dietrich moment of this very low lit in the caverns. That kind of gypsy band playing in the corner. I feel like all of my melancholy lyrics come out the other side as a positive experience. It's like that darkness of being alone or a break up. You feel like it's only you in the world. Of course the nights are so incredibly long and the days go so fast. You just want to know that you're not the only one out there. The end of it shows that you're not alone and the night actually winds up being returned to you. You're not the victim of the darkness or the loneliness of being throughout the dark of night. You now are the owner of it. You've come out on top and the night is once again your own.
Track 10: In Time
CN: I wrote this instrumental on the piano. When we were looking for a song to walk down the aisle to and to incorporate into our wedding party, I played a number of songs for Ritchie on the CD player and I kind of snuck mine in as well. I said Which one do you think we should use? and he chose In Time without even knowing it was mine. That was a nice compliment. I'm usually known for doing all the lyrics - I'm very in to my words, but I was able to say that with this one, I don't think I need to add anything to it lyrically. I felt it was very strong just having that escape through the instrumental as it was. I just left it in its pristine form and put it out there as an instrumental.