By Terrah Baker
Candy Lee has been a Northwest Arkansas musician favorite since 2011 when she won NAMA’s for best female vocalist in a band and best female singer/songwriter. The rest of Arkansas just got a taste of her talent last month when the Song of Arkansas contest got Lee interview spots on cable news channels, radio stations and magazines, singing her song about Arkansas’ natural beauty. She didn’t win the contest, but the exposure helped her kick off her public release of her second album, Human Conditions, being released on March 27, along with two CD release parties in Fayetteville.
Three years after her first album, The Gate, Lee is coming back with 13 new songs, one hidden track, a new sound and an overarching theme that touches every human experience.
“I looked at the song titles of all of the songs and there’s a song about change, and time, and tradition and all of these themes that everybody has to deal with, so I thought this was part of the human condition. I changed it to human conditions, because it’s also about us conditioning our environment as well. It’s an external and internal thing,” Lee said.
The sound has folksy, bluegrass undertones, which is very different from her first album which reflected her location at the time — Florida, the beach and hot summer days. She said she had never been exposed to bluegrass and folk before moving to Northwest Arkansas, and she found herself engrossed in its rich history and sound.
Her wispy, melodic voice fits well with the genre, as does her skills as a guitarist. The album features most of the members of her band, not all, but also other accomplished local musicians. She brought them to her in-home studio at different times to record each instrument separately, and then using her own talents put the layers together adding harmony and finishing touches along the way.
“I recorded at home just my Mac computer and one mic. I think it’s pretty cool how many instruments I was able to record and the sound that came out of it. I think doing that is kind of what made it such a lengthy process. I didn’t go to a studio and get it done, it was my own equipment in my own free time,” Lee said.
She said she likes the ability to record as many takes as she needs to get the sounds just right for the album, and so she can take her time — this album took her a year to record. It’s a collection of the favorite songs she’s written over the last three years. Her creative process varies, she said, sometimes basing a song off a chord progression on the guitar, or a lyric that pops into her head.
“’Time’ came out when I was turning 25 and felt I hadn’t accomplished anything and was feeling very stagnant. The same with ‘Change.’ I was ready for the seasons to change and the next step in my life,” she said. “There was maybe one song where I had to replace a few words to make it family friendly. It is a topic that I think people need to know about — the song called ‘Alone.’ It’s actually a song about being OK with being alone and not feeling like you have to go out to a bar and meet somebody, and taking that time to find someone you have a connection with. That’s an important message for kids even if they’re not old enough to understand it right away.”
And that’s important to Lee because many of her fans are children and families that enjoy her family friendly shows and music. Her first CD release party at the Greenhouse Grille on March 30 will be geared towards that fan base with the show starting at 5 p.m. Her show at George’s will be another story, with local bands Handmade Moments and John Henry and Friends serving as opening acts. $5 at the door for both shows.
To learn more about Lee and her music, visit, candyleemusic.bandcamp.com.