That Old Time Feeling: Whitney’s “No Woman”

The debut single from Secretly Canadian's newest band, Whitney.
By    February 17, 2016

whitney

Will Schube will drive far as long as these gas prices stay low.

The traveling man always moves from something, never towards. In the case of Julian Ehrlich (formerly of Unknown Mortal Orchestra), singer and drummer of Whitney, that thing is love. On the band’s debut single, “No Woman,” Ehrlich sings, “I left drinking on the city train, to spend some time on the road/Then one morning I woke up in LA/Found my breath on the coast.” Then comes the kicker: “I’ve been going through a change/I might never be sure.” His voice devoid of spirit as he laments this last line. Ehrlich’s unwavering falsetto immediately brings to mind a smoother Neil Young or a shier Jeremy Earl from Woods. Whitney’s debut track is wistful and longing, the dusty, charming b-side to an old folk record.

Joined by former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek, Whitney represents that indefinite period in life when you have enough time and choices to desert drunken city nights for a road trip of dubious origins and purpose. It’s a throwback, nostalgic for no time in particular—the only criterion is that it’s not the present.

The accompanying video to “No Woman” is full of young adult shenanigans, the sort of shit your friends make you do after a breakup so you only spend 99% of your time wallowing. Smoke bombs are thrown, beers are smashed, sadness is drowned out by the stuff that matters: friends and fun.

The song shakes itself from its introductory lilt with a guitar and horn breakdown that fits like a puzzle piece, accompanied by images of a cabin porch jam session and axe chucking. As the horns break and the guitar dissipates, the track halts to a moment of reflection. Ehrlich sidesteps a puddle and all that’s left is an overcast afternoon. Just because you leave doesn’t mean the sun’s gonna shine.

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