Album review: Candi Staton puts a worthy effort into It’s Time to Be Free

Even if the hits aren’t as obvious on It’s Time to Be Free, there is still plenty of quality.

It's Time To Be Free by Candi Staton. Beracah Records via AP
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Candi Staton

It’s Time to Be Free

(Beracah Records)

Three stars

Candi Staton blends gospel themes, and messages of redemption and caution, with dance music, funk and soul on , revisiting earlier hits and perhaps creating a few new ones.

Staton – whose career since the 1950s has ranged from gospel to R&B to disco and back again – takes a spiritual approach to the songs, nearly all of them her own, with the mostly upbeat arrangements buffering any excesses.

Based on the first couple of tracks – Shout Out, Hallelujah and You Got the Love, a new version of an old hit that had already undergone several transformations – you might get the impression that Staton is solely targeting the dance floor, but the mechanical beats hardly show up on the rest of the album.

Instead, while the lyrics reflect higher inspirations and aspirations, the music stays simple and sweet, with piano, horns, soulful backing vocals and plenty of bass slaps and plucks. The finger-wagging What You Don't Master, Will Master You is as much pleading as reprimand, while Put It Back is about retribution the devil must pay.

I Love You More Today could be an ode to a supportive spouse or friend, as much as a hymn. Four slower songs close the album, somewhat tilting the rhythmic balance.

Behind the Veil of Silence tackles domestic abuse, the five-times married Staton's testimony made all the more credible by her own experiences in rough relationships.

Best known for the song Young Hearts Run Free, Staton recently toured Europe celebrating the 40th anniversary of that disco anthem. Even if the hits aren't as obvious on It's Time to Be Free, there is still plenty of quality. On balance, it is a worthy effort.