'Set the Fire' Hints at Kandle's Full Potential

BY Yara El-SoueidiPublished May 27, 2021

There's been a resurgence of empowering, sensual music from female musicians as of late. From Lana Del Rey's Norman Fucking Rockwell! to Helena Deland's Someone New and Billie Eilish's recent single "Your Power", women have been reclaiming the narrative around their sexuality and relationships using their voices. Kandle aims to follow in these footsteps with her latest album, Set the Fire, though she still has some work to do before making the same type of impact.

Set the Fire is meant to be heavily inspired by cabaret and film noir aesthetics, and single "Honey Trap" (and accompanying music video) proves it with laser precision. Her distinct voice is luscious, warm and beautiful. It drips, well, like honey. The arrangements, however, serve her influences better than they serve her. 

Throughout Set the Fire, Kandle struggles to find her identity. As the album riffles through genres like cabaret, crooner and even Americana (on closing track "Vampire"), she comes off more like a tribute artist rather than herself. With "Lock and Load," she goes directly for the James Bond song and ends up sounding exactly like Adele on "Skyfall." "No Good" could be mistaken for an Amy Winehouse cover right from her first notes. 

This being said, it is on "Cathedral," co-written with Half Moon Run's Devon Portielje, where she finds her voice. Kandle eases through this song and delivers the chorus with power and assertiveness. The song matches her beautiful voice, which becomes raspy when she implores death to take her instead of the one she loves: "I'm thinking I should give up / I'm thinking, have I done enough? / It feels like a big mistake / Just to sit around and wait / But I don't know, I don't know how long it takes."

Set the Fire hints at Kandle's full potential. She has all the tools to take her rightful place as one of Canada's most acclaimed and internationally known singer-songwriters. The album sets up all of the parts of Kandle's influences — future releases will hopefully provide ample opportunity for her to transcend them.

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