REVIEW: Whitney – Forever Turned Around

I started listening to Whitney on a Sunday.

Sundays are cosy, warm and full of possibilities. They’re for spending time indoors, getting all Scandi and “hyggelig” with blankets, books and good music. Better spent when the weather’s turning, watching the rainclouds from the window, cup of tea in hand… you get the picture.

For a long time, Sundays were dominated by Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams. Who can resist the smooth, Hawaiian tones of ‘Banana Pancakes’, or the sunny-side up acoustics of ‘Breakdown’ on a wet and dreary day in Yorkshire? But as time moves on, so does the music – ol’Jack has almost completely been replaced on my ‘Sun-yay’ playlist by less established and more experimental voices. Except (of course) for classics from Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison – because their sounds are like slipping into an old and much-loved jumper; comfortable and familiar.

I’ve also cultivated a curious love for more folksy-ish duos. From best friends to lovers, something quite special happens when two people create music together. For me, it all started with Kings of Convenience – a gorgeous indie-pop duo from Bergen, Norway. I cannot even describe the joy they bring to my heart, but also the sadness left in the wake of their ‘extended hiatus’ (it’s been 10 years since the release of Declaration of Dependence. 10 YEARS).

So it’s high time I shared the love with another duo, and Whitney’s timing for Forever Turned Around couldn’t be more perfect.

If you’re into early Bon Iver, blues, and coffee shops, this album was made for you. It’s like taking a slow, winding drive along a country road on an autumn afternoon. Or, you know, lazing in bed on a Sunday morning…

More subdued and reflective than their debut, Light Upon the Lake, Whitney ooze calm and relaxation with this latest offering. Forever Turned Around is an exploration of impermanence, of shifting relationships and emotions, and it’s really quite wonderfully put together.

Opening tracks, ‘Giving Up’ and ‘Used To Be Lonely’ fit hand in hand, and set the tone from the outset. From the lyrics: ‘Waiting for the morning sun. Are you coming home, my love? Tears are falling one by one, I can feel you giving up’ – the track slips effortlessly into: ‘Well it made no sense at all, until you came along. I’m afraid you’re letting go ’cause the only life I’ve ever known used to be lonely’. It’s a carefully woven story of the fragility of relationships, and the album continues along a similar vein. ‘Song for Ty’ is one of the best tracks on the album – thoughtful and light, it feels deeply personal and hopeful, with the lyrics: ‘Tell me everything is just beginning. I don’t feel alive but I’ve been living […] Anything could happen.’

Forever Turned Around feels genuine and lovely, well-considered throughout with a good mix of rhythms and brass. Yet there is not much movement through this album, outside of the lyrics. Which is not necessarily a negative, it’s just something you need to be in the mood for. When shuffled into ‘Sun-yay’ it has made essential listening for the past few weeks, and I really would recommend spending some time with this album.

Words by Kathy Halliday

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