Whitney Forever Turned Around Secretly Canadian
A cursory listen to Whitney’s second album would suggest all is well. The breezy songs conjure up the kind of images which suggest band members Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek have spent the three years since 2016’s debut Light Upon the Lake enjoying life on a ranch, drinking bourbon as the sun sets behind the trees.
Horns and strings float lazily across the record, mingling with Ehrlich’s falsetto. On Song for Ty, he sings “Tell me everything stays the same” – and sonically, nothing much has changed. This is the gorgeous, pastoral major key Americana that we’d fallen in love with (even Elton John declared himself a fan).
Yet dig deeper and something more rueful pervades the record. On Valleys (My Love), Ehrlich sings “There’s got to be another way/ Pretending everything’s alright/ We‘ve been drifting apart for some time”. Clearly, behind the easygoing melodies, the band have been grappling with those age-old existential issues, questioning mortality and doubt.
That the first song is called Giving Up may have been a giveaway. Its delicate piano is undercut by a mournful chorus, while Day and Night talks of drifting and feeling dizzy. But, amid all the melancholy and allusions to relationships coming and going, is Used to Be Lonely with its declaration: “Well it made no sense at all/ Until you came along.” Then, those horns come in again and you realise the more things change the more they stay the same.