Whitney: Candid (Secretly Canadian) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, March 6th, 2021  



Secretly Canadian

Aug 14, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Whitney were one of the few lucky acts that were able to wrap up a tour mid-February of this year. Playing in support of last year’s Forever Turned Around, the seven-piece touring band made time to record an album of cover songs as their journey was coming to a close. If you’ve seen the band live, you know they can build a quiet storm, with the group’s sound fleshed out by one man horn section, Will Miller, and energetic keyboardist, Malcolm “I can’t sit down” Brown. Supplementing the core duo of Julien Ehrlich (vocals, drums) and Max Kakacek (guitar), the expanded line-up explore nine new covers on Candid

As any major dude will tell you, Whitney’s go to sound is circa 1974 and they do an able job taking a broad spectrum of styles here and making them their own. Noted for picking out some relatively obscure covers by major artists (Dolly Parton’s “Gonna Hurry (As Slow as I Can)” anyone?), I’ll admit to only having heard two of the originals here (John Denver’s and David Byrne/Brian Eno’s). And no, Whitney fans, the group’s rollicking take on NRBQ’s “Magnet” is nowhere to be found here. 

The songs range in both era and style from Kelela’s “Bank Head” back to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The latter a duet between Ehrlich and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield. But the album really starts to shine after a brief instrumental interlude, “Something Happen,” which apparently and fortunately is not an Ultimate Rejects cover. The liveliest track is the Byrne/Eno cover, “Strange Overtones”, which the band takes as their own—the warmth Whitney gives to it makes the stalker styled lyrics not so creepy in their hands. The wistful approach on The Roches’ “Hammond Song”; the gentle chug of Labi Siffre’s “Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying”; and simple close of Townes Van Zandt understudy Blaze Foley’s “Rainbows and Ridges” show Whitney’s ability to get in the pocket and stay there. There’s really no misstep on the album, but not sure there would be any way to top über-eccentric Moondog’s own twinkly charm of “High on a Rocky Ledge.” 

Whitney claims to have stretched themselves in the recording of these songs. Certainly there are a lot of diverse originals on display here, but all in a rather chill vein—both the source material as well as the group’s versions. It’s not as if they tried to Whitney-tize “Master of Puppets” and that’s probably as it should be. Candid feels cozily at home with Whitney’s own material and given the undercard picks they chose to cover most listeners will be none the wiser. (www.whitneytheband.com)   

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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