Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Fringe-dwellers of the Los Angeles music scene know Candye Kane as more than the sum of her outsider aspects”a fat, illegitimate, X-rated welfare mom from East L.A.,” as she calls herself here in the generous gospel anthem, “Love ‘Em and Forgive ‘Em.” Not only has she been through SoCal hell, as this album testifies, but there’s no one else keeping alive the rattlesnake-and-sugar skull country/blues/rockabilly tradition that spawned L.A. greats from X to the Blasters to Gillian Welch. Blaster Dave Alvin does much of the grunt work on Diva la Grande, co-writing, co-producing, and playing some guitar, but the real show is Kane’s; she’s an oversize, sweet, stinging, sex-obsessed diva with more heart than voicenot that it matters when they’re both so big. She doesn’t care for illusions; the album kicks off with a queen-size come-on, the raucous “You Need a Great Big Woman.” Sid Wyche’s “I Got a Feelin’” is a sinuous voodoo threat, and “The Lord Was a Woman” makes playful hay with the idea of a heavenly matriarchy. Candye’s an old-fashioned girl. Her pro-woman line is blessedly free of do-me-feminist coyness; her seduction style is all martinis, sex toys, and pink marabou (even when she’s after a girl). And when she’s crying the blues on a sunny day, it only seems fitting that “It Should Be Rainin’” ’cause it’s raining in her heart. Diva la Grande won’t set the music world on fire, but it’s brash, naive, and totally without cruelty or dishonesty, a female empowerment treatise and a sexy, boot-stomping good time.Arion Berger