Album Review: Whitley, Even The Stars Are A Mess

“I’m gonna rise up like a fire/past mistakes my howling choir”—these are the first two lines of Whitley’s song “Pride”, from his new album Even The Stars Are A Mess.In 2010, Melbourne-based Whitley shed his artist skin and retired as Lawrence Greenwood after producing two successful albums—The Submarine and Go Forth, Find Mammoth.After travelling the world in search of new sounds and experiments, Lawrence has come back to us, dusted off his Whitley moniker and has given us an album to make up for his absence in the musical world. But has this album made up for his three years away?Even The Stars Are A Mess is a slow melodic symphony of acoustic percussion and soft, mellow vocals; the Whitley we all know and love. Yet there is something different, something discernable that sets this album apart from his previous work.Whitley’s first single “My Heart Is Not A Machine” is a soft and powerful song that gives a good indication of what’s in store when you listen to the album in its entirety. The female vocals that echo Whitley’s voice give extra depth and meaning into his somewhat sad, philosophical realisation; a theme that is present throughout most of the album.Yet it’s from start to finish, that we find there is a distinct fluidity within the album. The songs seems to flow in and out of each other, complimenting as they go but also distinguishing that they are separate songs. From “The Ballad Of Terence McKenna” to “TV”, the pause between the end and the beginning of the next sounds like a pause between verses that kicks off with emphasis and satisfaction.It’s that bit of ‘oomph’ so to speak that is an attractive quality about Even The Stars Are A Mess. Usually, a staggered musical break between songs on an album makes it an uncomfortable transition, especially when the songs are of different tempo. Yet as each of his songs have similar instrumentals, Whitley makes this transition so easily that you sometimes don’t notice you’re in the next song.This isn’t the only thing that Whitley guides us on; evoking emotion seems to be a trait that nearly all Whitley songs have. He is a lyrically strong artist, his words a rollercoaster of musical emotion that we can’t help but notice because of the way he sings: like he means it.In reference to the lyrics from “Pride” at the beginning of this piece, they are important because they encompass what Whitley has done. Despite his distance from his moniker as Lawrence Greenwood, he has matured, transitioned and produced a collection of music that he is proud to publish under Whitley. It seems coming out of retirement and making this album is one of the best decisions he’s Aimee Malotsis

August 22nd 2013
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