Whitney - Candid Music Album Reviews

Though no song on the Chicago rock band’s all-covers album is particularly wild or ambitious, the collection is faithful, fine-tuned, and thoughtfully curated.

Whitney found their voice by idolizing the voices of others. This is as foundational to the band as floral instrumental arrangements, great hair, and Julien Ehrlich’s pinched falsetto. Before Whitney was a widely beloved retro-rock group, “Whitney” was their muse: a fictional character invented by co-bandleaders Ehrlich and Max Kakacek whose thoughts they channeled into their first songs. In those early days, they moonlit as the backing band for the proudly rinky-dink diva Jimmy Whispers, alchemizing their full, brass-tinged sound into the warm glow of a spotlight pointed at someone else.
The band quickly struck gold with “Golden Days,” the anthem of their 2016 Laurel Canyon-revering debut album, Light Upon the Lake. Elton John was spilling his guts to Ehrlich over the phone within months; Ehrlich gushed back to him about the singer Weyes Blood. But since that year, Whitney haven’t sounded quite so emphatically in love with their influences. Last year’s album, Forever Turned Around, was much more internal and melancholy. Their golden glow became that of embers, instead of sparks. It seems possible that they’ve scuffled with writer’s block: With their new all-covers album, Candid, Whitney have now formally released almost as many cover songs as they have originals.

Whitney approach Candid like an inspiration board with 10 portraits tacked up—Ehrlich quite directly calls it “an exploration into how we can evolve as a band going forward.” The artists whom Whitney had covered before now generally scanned with their country-soul sensibilities: Neil Young, Allen Toussaint, NRBQ, Wilco, Dolly, Dylan. Here, not exactly: On Candid, Whitney tackle pithy folksters (the Roches, Blaze Foley) and enigmatic men of introspection (Moondog, Damien Jurado), but also women of heady, swirling R&B (SWV, Kelela), David Byrne, and a 1972 instrumental interlude by the French film composer Jack Arel that might be best known as a Mick Jenkins sample.

For the most part, these covers are faithful, fine-tuned, and sound great. No track on Candid warps its original in a particularly wild or ambitious way; Whitney are more concerned with nailing these takes respectfully than fundamentally reimagining them. Impressively, the band commits to an entire nine- or 10-piece arrangement for Moondog’s spare, longing piano song “High on a Rocky Ledge” like it was there all along: Kakacek’s lilting guitar refrain leads the way, and Ehrlich doesn’t shy away from pronouncing “mädel edelweiß.” SWV’s extremely sensual “Rain” and Foley’s resigned lament “Rainbows & Ridges”—probably the two most aesthetically unalike songs covered here—are slotted next to each other at the end of the album, but Erlich’s tender singing voice seems to connect them without stretching. Only “Strange Overtones,” a highlight of Byrne and Brian Eno’s second collaborative album, lands awkwardly—dance rhythms just aren’t a natural fit on Whitney.

Candid has a second, more interesting function, though, one that’s independent of Whitney’s taste or talent as players. It has to do with the fact that most of these songs were not their creators’ most famous—they’re the ones that get buried a little further under better-known work, and all the rest of the music in the world, with each passing day. It’s not just that these picks are obscure or diverse, or that Ehrlich and Kakacek probably make outstanding playlists. It’s how they seem to select a few interesting pebbles from an infinite beach, polish them, and place them on a mantle. It’s how they pluck one of Labi Siffre’s many dozens of good songs, place it alongside one of Damien Jurado’s, and behold the pairing. This feels like the “candid” to which Whitney refer: not in the sense of frank and direct, but of capturing moments that weren’t necessarily destined for preservation.

Their inclusion of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is the obvious exception, but a verse by Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield—Candid’s lone feature—single-handedly validates the choice. The folk-rocker and born Southerner sounds crushingly genuine as she pays loving tribute to her musical and geographical roots; after hearing Crutchfield sing it, you’ll feel almost guilty to have ever found the song’s ubiquity grating.

It nearly qualifies as Candid’s finest moment, but that title goes to the other selection here that was its original artist’s signature song, though nowhere near as successful. “Hammond Song,” the 1978 track by singing sisters the Roches, is about as underappreciated as perfect folk songs come—and, as far as modern bands not named Haim go, Whitney are maybe the most logical choice to interpret it. Ehrlich synthesizes the sisters’ three harmony lines into one melody as he takes on their fears that the song’s subject is “on the wrong track” in moving to the titular Louisiana city and leaving behind family, home, and all other prospects. Whitney have yet to truly lose their way, and it’s because they wear influences like this so well.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Whitney - Candid Music Album Reviews Whitney - Candid Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 Rating:

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