Friday, August 12, 2011

Whitehorse: "Whitehorse" (album review)

Whitehorse is the new project from Canadian indie rock supercouple Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet.  The self-titled album is out now on iTunes and gets a physical release on August 30th.

Two songs into this one and I was already blown away. The arrangements are an incredibly vibrant concoction of roots, country, and other gritty styles.  "Killing Time Is Murder", for instance, is a methodical country blues stomp that would put Drive-By Truckers to shame.  McClelland gets so delightfully twangy on "Passenger 24" that she could easily be mistaken for a young Lucinda Williams.

While the soulfulness virtually drips off the songs, the hooks and melodies have not been sacrificed.  Songs like "Emerald Isle", "Broken", and "I'm On Fire" will have you toe tapping and/or head bopping (or whatever your preferred form of expressing glee may be).

Itt's the vocals that star. The chemistry between McClelland and Doucet is undeniable.  On each and every song they play off each other perfectly.  There's nary a vocal misstep on the record, a fact that helps to highlight the personal nature of the lyrics.  That's best illustrated on the intimate and tender near-lullaby "Night Owls".

McClelland and Doucet are great individually, so it astonishes me how much better they are together.  It's definitely an album of the year contender.

Whitehorse plays the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto on September 21st.

Best tracks: "Killing Time Is Murder", "Emerald Isle"

Track listing for Whitehorse:
  • Eulogy for Whiskers, Pt I
  • Killing Time Is Murder
  • Emerald Isle
  • Passenger 24
  • Broken
  • I'm On Fire
  • Night Owls
  • Eulogy for Whiskers, Pt II
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Anonymous said...

This duo is incredible, and their latest album, Whitehorse is beyond words. Edgy, compelling, and wistful only begin to describe them.

Anonymous said...

I saw them at the Rio. Incredible music but the sound on the CD is really poor. The CBC podcast is better.