The problem with Jean Carn is so obvious it makes one wonder about the vagaries of the music business. Put simply, Carn's talents as a vocalist are light years ahead of her material.

Five years ago, Carn showed great promise as a jazz singer in a duo with her husband, Doug Carn. Divorce and a career choice found her pulled into the Philadelphia International Records stable, famed for the Progressive R &B/soul success of its artists.

Carn has been lost there ever since. The one major drawback to her gaining a larger audience is her willingness to be subservient to the production and song-writing control of PRI's regining troika: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Dexter Wanzel.

While this group has accounted for any number of hits for others over the past decade, they have not been able to challenge Carn's immensely varied vocal talents with any memorable material. It is at best adequate, at its worst repetitious and derivative.

With proper material, one could envision Carn on the same level as Gladys Knight or Aretha Franklin. As things stand, she will keep company with other fine singers-like Etta James, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Phyllis Hymans-who seldom have been given the right tools to display their natural artistry.