The Candid Few

So, The Candid Few’s new full-length, In a Different Place, is definitely an unusual amalgam of styles—a funky, in-the-pocket rhythm section, a dramatic rock guitarist, and a sensitive-guy soul vocalist—but despite some interesting moments, it doesn’t quite come together. Part of the problem is the mix of the record; it often sounds like the four band members are literally In a Different Place from one another. The vocals and guitar solos are way too far out front, and the rootsy contributions of the rhythm players, particularly drummer Dominic Kelly, are sometimes buried too deep to blossom.

Guitarist Josh Skroch’s solos sometimes sound like those of Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready—in other words, like a ’90s alt-rocker copping Hendrix licks. They’re a little melodramatic, but sometimes interesting. The bigger problem is with rhythm guitar playing. He uses a lot of those “jazzy” chords with extra notes, sevenths and ninths or whatever, which stick out like sore thumbs. Those kinds of chords have their place, but why use a laser when a shotgun will do the job?

Vocalist Joel Primus sometimes sounds like Stevie Wonder, and other times sounds like he’s trying to sound like Stevie Wonder. His voice is as smooth as a baby’s bottom—though that’s not something I necessarily want to listen to—but he lacks the dynamism needed to convey soul, that rare ability to go seamlessly from whisper to howl. But again, on record, that lack of dynamic range might partly be the fault of the mix.

The Candid Few has an unusual, intriguing sound, but it doesn’t gel on In a Different Place. The sound is almost there—all it needs is a better, rhythm-oriented production, a more nuanced vocal style, and a stripped-down approach to songwriting.