Covers albums are a tricky beast. Often, they’re little more than merch desk fillers, something for fans to soak up in their own time, but rarely a key part of an artist’s catalogue.
Whitney have decided to grapple with this problem on ‘Candid’, interpolating material by artists as diverse as David Byrne and Kelela, John Denver and SWV. It’s a neat 10 song selection, one that finds the band filtering the source material through their lens of Instagram Americana, resulting in a project that is perfectly nice, but rarely more than that.
The lengthy, completely live take on ‘Hammond Song’ is perhaps the project’s centre-piece, and it’s a sign of the deep, abiding chemistry in the group. Honed across lengthy international tours, there’s an almost palpable sense of trust in the tightrope methodology, one that borders on The Band’s Big Pink seclusion.
SWV’s ‘Rain’ is given a refreshing re-work, while the neat take on David Byrne and Brian Eno’s ‘Strange Overtones’ remains faithful to the original. Ultimately, ‘Candid’ rarely steps outwith the American band’s self-imposed boundaries. An aesthetic finely distilled on their debut and it’s follow up, Whitney seemed to want to shake up that studio broth with the introduction of different techniques. Ironically, the project doesn’t really find the band moving outside their comfort zone – indeed, ‘Candid’ is defined almost by how resolutely ‘Whitney’ it feels.
Closer ‘Rainbows And Ridges’ has that Golden Hour feel, while ‘High On A Rocky Ledge’ is built around a cute, self-effacing stumble; Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield guests on ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, a perfectly pleasant motion through the country favourite.
A moment of pause from Whitney, ‘Candid’ is a record of perhaps hidden progression. It will be interesting to see if the lesser-trodden paths stamped out by the original authors leave a lasting impact on the band.
Words: Robin Murray
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