The Classic Crime’s vocalist in a folk project with his wife? Yes, please.
Often, it seems like side projects of vocalists tend not to stray far from the source, but Vocal Few is quite the departure from TCC’s material. I don’t know about you, but when I listen to a side project of someone in a band I like that is still together, I don’t want to hear a replica of said band. There is a variety of instrumentation happening with some wonderful vocal performances throughout, and (aside from Matt’s voice) it doesn’t really have much similarity to his main band. Matt is the dominant one on the vocals here and even though he is the stronger singer (granted he has had a lot of practice over the last 8-9 years) I wish Kristie was utilized a little more. I didn’t think much of her voice at first, but it really grew on me over repeated listens. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have many of her own passages and typically just plays harmony to Matt. Also, when they are singing together, her voice sometimes seems to be further back in the mix than it should, but it could just be Matt’s vocals overpowering hers. Speaking more the vocals, I also wish the two would have overlapped and intertwined their vocal lines, maybe something similar to how bands like Emery handled their dual vocals, instead of only singing in harmony or completely separate from each other. The chorus of “Simple and Free” is a great example of this:
And I don’t mind
(The fact these musical notes)
Haunt my mind
(And resonate from my bones)
Simple and free is what I said…
The parts in parentheses are the background vocals, but Matt performs the entire chorus and overlaps his own voice. Kristie could have easily performed the background vocals to add some more flavor and then, just to spice it up some more, they could have switched the vocals on the chorus later in the song and had Kristie do the main part and Matt in the background. It just seems like a missed opportunity for something of this high quality to be even better than it already is.
The music is typically of a lighthearted nature, but there is a very strong sentiment in the lyrics throughout the EP, and it runs the deepest on “One Day Soon.” It is an absolutely gorgeous song in which Matt lovingly sings about the present and then moves on to the future, as the title suggests, of his baby girl. Kristie is largely absent in the song, except for some harmony parts, and it could have been a nice touch to have her sing the background parts in the chorus (“You will never be alone” is repeated in the background as the main passage goes on) or even have her own verse, but the song is pretty much all Matt’s baby (pun intended, you ask? I haven’t decided yet). “Good Enough” is another beautifully somber song that and has Matt delivering one of the best performances I have heard from him. Kristie also gives a fantastic performance along with him and especially shines in her harmony sections. It’s almost as if she was afraid to let loose on the sections where she sings by herself like she does here when singing with Matt.
Wild I Am is another great song that livens things up a bit after “One Day Soon” and even if the chorus is a bit reminiscent to the beginning of the chorus in “What I’d Give Up” from TCC’s last album, Phoenix, the piano is well done (the staccato on the intro is a nice touch) and the vocal harmonies sound great together (especially since Kristie’s voice is more prominent in the mix). I almost think that it would have made a wiser choice as an intro track and The Road would have been better to finish the EP off, but the choosing of the beginning and ending tracks doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
All the lyrics are handled quite nicely and have a fairly wide range of topics. “The Road” is about how the couple handled Matt being on the road with The Classic Crime, “Simple and Free” speaks on the subject on why they chose music over other career choices, and “Good Enough” talks about the pitfalls of love, their failed relationships in their past, and also touches on how the two have made it as long as they have as a couple. Along with “One Day Soon,” it has a strong emotional weight to it and both are absolute highlights of the EP.
Aside from a few odd choices on how the vocals were handled, this is a wonderful and well executed EP from Vocal Few. Originally, the two only started it up because of Kristie’s first pregnancy and the need of some extra money, but after their first release came to much success (as well as Kristie becoming pregnant again), they decided to keep it going. Whether it’s because of their enjoyment of making music together, the need for some extra money, fans just wanting more, or all of the above; I couldn’t be happier to help support them through their endeavors. Who knows? If they keep popping out kids like this, maybe we will get a full length album one of these days.
1. The Road
3. Good Enough
4. Afriad (Interlude)
5. Simple and Free
6. One Day Soon
7. Wild I Am
Release Date: May 21st, 2013