Trite, but true: there’s a certain magic to music that, even now, we struggle to explain. Why is it that sounds of a certain frequency or timbre simply seem to resonate, while others don’t?
It’s a puzzle that sprung to mind when Whitney unleashed debut cut ‘No Woman’. On paper, it wasn’t the most emphatic of entrances – the lyrics amount to a handful of sentences, while the arrangement itself is little more than a few strummed chords, and some brass. Yet, somehow, within its four minute span ‘No Woman’ seems to conjure a universe rooted in existential drama, of heartache, loss, and seemingly endless drifting.
Debut album ‘Light Upon The Lake’ aims to expand on this, and – quite emphatically – it succeeds. Ten tracks that are succinct without every being brief, it provides evidence that more than a little magic exists within Whitney.
‘The Falls’ is a relentlessly buoyant country jammer, the lilting tenor of the vocal set against that endlessly chirruping riff. ‘Golden Days’ almost collapses beneath the weight of its beatific nostalgia, hazy Americana set against the plaintive, incredibly direct lyrics, asking: “why don’t you save me from hanging on?”
Why, indeed? ‘Light Upon The Lake’ continually places the gilded energy of youth against the bittersweet taste of experience, looking back while continually living in the present. ‘Dave’s Song’ is poignantly addictive, but Whitney rein in the melancholy on cuts such as ‘On My Own’, which make being on your own feel like the most rapturous experience imaginable.
The debut record isn’t all downcast, however. ‘No Matter Where We Go’ has an anthemic quality, the chugging Creedence-style groove accompanied by vocal riffing worthy of Crosby, Stills & Nash. ‘Red Moon’ is a jaunty, 90 second horn-led breeze, while closer ‘Follow’ is a neat countrified stomper that seems to find acquiescence in the darkness, “on a night when the moon is low”.
Taken at face value, the material on Whitney’s debut album seems sparked by loss, by breaks up both personal and professional. It conjures those moments when life simply overwhelms, when transient moments – light, wind, seasons, the night – are arranged in a random perfection. In its relentless fixation upon youth ‘Light Upon The Lake’ seems to have stumbled across the timeless.
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