Whitney Review

Photos: Laure Noverazz

Thekla | 9th November

“I wanted to refrain from talking about the election,” Julian Ehrlich says solemnly before pausing; readjusting himself, he declares, “you know what? Let’s not talk about it at all. Let’s rise above it and just have some fun.”

On a day like November 9th, it’s hard to raise a smile but Whitney‘s blend of soulful alternative country has the whole room forgetting about the impending apocalypse, if only for an hour.

Earlier in the evening, we were treated to a gorgeous set from Australia’s Julia Jacklin. With a full band, her songs soar to new heights, as vulnerable lyricism is matched with lush, layered guitars and gentle rhythms. The real treat comes when she tackles the stage on her own; candid but confidently so, her voice is full of nostalgic soul – a songwriter that looks to the past for her inspirations but delivers with a hope for the future.

A stand-out moment is Jacklin’s final song and title track from her debut record ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’. Offering advice on calling your gran, asking your mum about her life before you were born and always being there for your siblings, it’s the kind of rhetoric that rings truthfully poignant on a day where it seems hate is reigning supreme. It’s the little things like this that matter and Jacklin has a gift when it comes to telling it like it is.

As Whitney begin their set, Ehrlich is noticeably defeated by the election results, as he places his hood over his head and thrashes his drum kit. However, as the songs continue, he loosens up, as Whitney’s tight-as-you-like delivery brings a room full of fed-up people together, hiding from the world in beautiful unison.

Performing cuts from debut album Light Upon The Lake – plus a delightful Bob Dylan cover – their pop take on soulful-country is insatiably uplifting but it’s the musicianship on show that’s noticeably impressive. With seven band members, each instrumentalist stands out whilst seamlessly adding to the band’s delivery; Max Kakacek’s guitar slides and solo flairs teamed with Ehrlich’s almost inhuman drum fills (his hands definitely became blurred due to the sheer speed at times) is enough to make this crowd stare, entranced and often in disbelief.

‘Dave’s Song’ – written after the death of Ehrlich’s grandfather – rings especially poignantly, as Ehrlich reveals that his parents (plus Max’s mother and Aunt and trumpet-player Will’s parents) are at the show. The show suddenly feels more personal, as if Whitney are allowing us to witness them at their most vulnerable. After a day that feels overrun with evil prejudice and hopelessness, Whitney should be immeasurably proud that they were able to deliver a set that allowed a little light into the world.

Light Upon The Lake is out now on Secretly Canadian. Check out the video for ‘Polly’ below.