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Light Upon the Lake

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Album Review

Light Upon the Lake is the moseying debut album of Whitney, a septet built around the core songwriting team of Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek, both formerly of Smith Westerns. Often surprisingly intimate for a seven-piece, the group makes subtle use of instrumentation like brass and strings to flesh out without symphonizing their country-tinged indie pop. The melancholy opener, "No Woman," begins with cushiony keyboards and a short brass fanfare before Ehrlich — who doubles as the band's lead singer and drummer — introduces his misty, double-tracked falsetto. He appears alongside strummed acoustic guitar with lyrics like "I've been going through a change/I might never be sure/I'm just walking in a haze." A melodic electric-guitar cadence and atmospheric strings contribute to a mostly instrumental chorus that seems to leave the storyteller alone to regroup. Later, the title track also makes use of elegant guitar lines and those double-tracked vocals for a brisker but still affecting, angst-ridden query. Other more uptempo songs come with livelier arrangements and brighter dispositions, such as the appropriately summery "Golden Days" and the twangy, heartening "No Matter Where We Go." The album wades into jam band territory on occasion, but for the most part hovers between a singer/songwriter-friendly indie rock club and somewhere on the dial of '70s AM radio. It proves a pretty comforting place to be. Including Light Upon the Lake's one jaunty instrumental ("Red Moon"), the 30-minute set of ten tunes will leave many wanting more, an auspicious trait for an otherwise satisfying debut.

Biography

Formed: 2015 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

Devising sauntering, country-informed indie pop, Whitney is a band built around the core songwriting duo of Julien Ehrlich, formerly of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Smith Westerns, and Max Kakacek, formerly of the latter. Ehrlich sings and plays drums, while Kakacek handles guitars. Their first single, "No Woman," appeared in January 2016, and two months later they made waves with an appearance at the South by Southwest music festival. With a fluctuating lineup of supporting players, Whitney quickly...
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Light Upon the Lake, Whitney
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