Review Summary: DISAPPOINTING.
Much like Skillet, I was sucked into checking The Gracious Few by a single. Only this time, the song "Appetite" was much better than Skillet's offering. And, by my expectations being raised, so too was my disappointment when I heard the entire album. Despite containing alumni from Candlebox and Live, both veteran bands from the 1990's, and despite the sound they conjure up being out of vogue for well over a decade, the majority of their eponymous debut is underwhelming, stale, and uninspired.
The only two standout tracks, "Appetite" and "Nothing But Love", recall the bands during their heyday, and singer Kevin Martin seems to be channeling Robert Plant's high pitched squeals and caws on top of his already leathered glam metal gravel. These songs contain the bouncy dynamics and jagged riffing of Led Zeppelin, washed over in a modern crunch and slapped with hard rock sensibilities, and could have made one hell of an album.
What we get for the other eleven tracks is garage-band level middling groove metal straight out of the early nineties, cargo shorts and Machine Head t-shirts displayed in full. It's difficult, with the exception of Martin's trademark howl, which part of Live and which part of Candlebox make up The Gracious Few. And while it may seem like I'm judging the band based on their past works, this is not the case: Both of the tracks above hardly resemble either of the founding bands, with only a ghost of a hint here and there, and they are great songs. If you ever remember seeing a dizzying array of small-time minor label bands being played on your local public access channel years ago, and remember how they started blending together because they all sounded the same, then you know what to expect from The Gracious Few
Despite the promises that "Appetite" showed (a melding of classic rock, grunge, and hard rock), none of these things ever come to fruition. Instead of an amazing retro journey through the decade of self-loathing and cynicism, we get a retread through that decade of all the parts that we left behind and promptly
forgot about. Lazy grooves played four times with no variation, verses constructed 90% of basslines (and guitars coming right in, playing the exact riff, only distorted), and occasional psychedelic trips into meandering jam sessions: You know exactly what you're getting into here.
For those of us who lived through the era, this is an album best left shelved. For those who missed it... well, lucky you. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Carry on.