Someone should have a conversation with whoever made “Midgey Ponchey,” the first track of the Jessica Stuart Few’s new album, because he or she owes the band an apology. The song doesn’t grab you like the first track of an album should and it would be best suited buried somewhere in the middle of the album. As it is, it starts Kid Dream—the JSF’s first full-length album—off on the wrong foot, and the album never quite recovers after this stumble.
The first problem with the album is Stuart’s vocals. On its own, her voice isn’t unpleasant, but it does the album a disservice, its crisp breathiness failing to mesh with anyone else in the band. These songs need a voice with slightly higher calorie content that will draw out the rich textures of the other instruments.
There are some charming moments on Kid Dream. “(Don’t Live Just For The) Weekend” a cheery polemic against getting sucked into the nine-to-five mentality, is pleasant and hooky, if it doesn’t bring much to the table in the way of depth. The title track makes use of Stuart’s much-touted skill on the koto, a traditional Japanese instrument with 13 strings, to some effect. The opening instrumental bars are appropriately dream-like and luxurious. But, once again, the vocals chafe against the instrumental line.
There’s potential here, but it usually gets derailed when the JSF get lost in their songs and lose sight of what makes music stick to the brain. They could use a refresher on the difference between music that’s a pleasure to play and music that’s a pleasure to listen to.