Album Review: Whitney – Light Upon The Lake
July 6, 2016
Bands are delicate, dainty things. They’re like your family reunion on Thanksgiving, except even more incendiary because creative minds are involved. They get together, compose great music, animate stages, break up and while some reunite, others unfortunately can never get back into their groove. Formed out of the ashes of now-defunct Smith Westerns and flowing into the windy city is Whitney (a new favorite of ours) consisting of some familiar faces: Max Kakacek, former guitarist with Smith Westerns and Julien Ehrlich, former drummer of psych-soul group Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
On their whimsical and mesmerizing album debut, the seven-piece Chicago-based band release the heartfelt and effortless, Light Upon The Lake that when listened to equates to your memories of driving through a long tunnel with the wind over your face, through a vintage filter.
Their album opener, ‘No Woman’, is gently unlocked through an electric piano backed by a brassy trumpet and Ehrlichs soft falsetto entrance, which edges the borders between soulful folk and country; an old school analogue sound similar to Rumours era Fleetwood Mac. Ehrlich’s lyrics take us through a sentimental journey as he describes his homestead abandonment towards the open road life.
Followed by the more vibrant tracks ‘The Falls’ and ‘Golden Days,’ where they each feature an upbeat piano, twangy guitar solos, high pitched vocals, and heart wrenching lyrics. But what these two songs do best is conceal creeping melancholic feelings underneath vivid hooks and rootsy instrumentation.
Evidently tying the tracks together is the vulnerable vocal of Julian Ehrlich: “Take me in your heart again,” he earnestly hums with depth and character in ‘Dave’s Song.’
The record isn’t all despairing, however. ‘Red Moon’ is an authentic revival to the trumpet as a lethal weapon. It’s a jazzy, 90 second, trumpet-led instrumental that breaks away from the consistent sound of the rest of the album. While ‘No Matter Where We Go’ exhibits the chance of discovery, whether terrestrial or emotional, with it’s groovy rhythms accompanied by sliding keys and warm guitars. Lyrically, it’s chorus is pleasantly evocative,“I can take you out, I wanna drive around, with you with the windows down.”
Without a doubt, Light Upon The Lake is a record that thousands will cling onto. The record’s finest moments are relatable to many, whether we’re reminiscing on our golden youth or the guilt of our present days. Any of the tracks could have been a single, but they’ve truly perfected an album that exemplifies the meaning of creating something invaluable; a timeless and beautifully arranged record from beginning to end.
Full tracklist below:
01 No Woman
02 The Falls
03 Golden Days
04 Dave’s Song
05 Light Upon the Lake
06 No Matter Where We Go
07 On My Own
08 Red Moon