Friday, January 27th, 2017

Candi Carpenter – Burn the Bed

I like that we like songs like this.

Alfred Soto: “Most people take out the trash/they don’t bring it home” — daaaammn. Such is Candi Carpenter’s self-assurance — I’m reminded of Dustin Hoffman’s admonishing Teri Garr for showing her rage like a second-rate actress in Tootsie — that I understand how some listeners might think this voice incapable of rage. I’d say she has to hold it together, like Reba McEntire barely did in “Whoever’s in New England.” In Carpenter’s tool shed you won’t find gunpowder and lead: we’d find kerosene and Kwell.

David Sheffieck: I’m most struck by how low-key Carpenter is here: she might say she wants to burn the bed, but she never sounds like she actually would. So the song functions as a lament, a mournful plea, rather than the threat that the title and refrain promise. It’s all setup, no payoff – and that mostly works, especially thanks to the passion she shows in the bridge. But I think we might both feel better if she’d just gone through with it.

Iain Mew: It’s not that Candi Carpenter’s performance is lacking, exactly, but she can’t overcome the way it sometimes feels more like she’s wallowing in cruel details because it makes for a fine writing conceit than because the character in the song genuinely would. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the less elegantly crafted lines that’s by far the most powerful, when she shuts down the song and story with “most people take out the trash; they don’t bring it home” before it seems to have run its course, a sudden note of total finality.

Megan Harrington: Against quiet and demurring production, Carpenter stages her searing goodbye kiss. The horrifying particulars (a personified photograph, a defiled wedding ring, a dab of perfume) are acute and vicious and absolutely no match for the wistful guitar. With all the gnashing and burning, I wish there was something more substantial for Carpenter to chew.

Anthony Easton: A smouldering ballad, with the hook complicated by a profound materialism–details of picture frames, wedding rings, mattresses and trash that seem beyond metaphor. Her voice is a bit Miranda and a lot Sammi Smith, and it’s a haunting masterpiece of slow anger and deeper contempt.

Thomas Inskeep: Taste of Country calls Carpenter “country music’s next young traditionalist,” and while I guess that might apply, she sounds more modern than that to my ears, especially in her vocal delivery. That said, musically this cuts a nice swath between, say, Maren Morris and, Jon Pardi, and that opening lyric — “Most people take out the trash/They don’t bring it home” — brings to mind the defiant “oh no you don’t” of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough.” I hope there’s more where this came from.

Josh Love: Innumerable country songs have plowed this specific furrow, imagining all the ways a faithless lover defiled the domestic nest, but newcomer Carpenter digs deeper than most, particularly with the creatively biting line, “Did you take my pictures down or did I have to watch?” “Burn the Bed” would fit effortlessly on any Lee Ann Womack album of recent vintage, the highest praise you can bestow on a wronged-woman balladeer.

Katherine St Asaph: “Girl Crush” plumbed the subtext here, and Sunny Sweeney and Miranda Lambert and her cohorts imagined the other woman with more compassion and less middle-class morality, and of course critics prefer all that. “Burn the Bed” is aimed squarely at someone else: the enormous demographic of divorced Southern women, cheated on by those country bros and suburban family men yet still fundamentally conservative. The details here are exactly how they’d tell them, and Carpenter delivers them not with outsize vengeance but more lifelike exhaustion and rue, which is why this should be a hit.

Edward Okulicz: “Most people take out the trash/They don’t bring it home” — terrific opening line. It’s a terrific performance too, and that and the music vividly capture the uneasy mix of hurt and anger that would make you want to burn the bed but never live out the fantasy, where anger fuels desire to act but at the same time paralyses. Back to that terrific opening line, though, it doesn’t function as a good or suitable closing line as the song stops abruptly on a note of unwon resolution that’s at odds with the rest of the song. Not that you want to pancake things, but it’s crying for at least another chorus to end on the right mood. And it still would have been done in 3 minutes.

Reader average: [5] (2 votes)

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