Sunday ACL Fest Interview: Whitney

Caring words and soothing melodies define country soul duo from Windy City

Photo by Sandy Kim

Product of former Smith Westerns members Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, soft strings and tepid melodies entwine with drums and uplifting horns.

Light Upon the Lake, the debut from Chicago country soul duo Whitney, brims with despondency while simultaneously comforting you to carry on. Product of former Smith Westerns members Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, soft strings and tepid melodies entwine with drums and uplifting horns beneath Ehrlich's hushed falsetto to bring you nostalgia and lyrical gloom. Kakacek spoke from a small, isolated cabin in Rhododendron, Ore., where the duo retreated to write a follow-up.

"After touring for a year, we thought it'd be nice to be in the middle of nowhere," he chuckled.

Whitney's music is characterized by its humility. "No Woman" slowly welcomes you as the trumpet ascends and Kakacek's strings lull you along. Then ballads such as the title track ground the listener as Ehrlich murmurs, "Will life get ahead of me?" Remember it upon your next heartbreak.

"The way the music sounds when we were first coming up with the project, that kind of melancholy dictated the lyrics we were writing," recounts Kakacek. "The songs we're writing now are instilled with this idyllic national forest with beautiful hikes all around."

Light Upon the Lake remains sympathetically sweet throughout.

"The first time, listen to the album someplace very peaceful and quiet that feels comfortable," he instructs. "I don't know, after your first kiss or something, you know?"


3:15pm, Barton Springs stage

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ACL Fest 2017, Whitney, Light Upon the Lake, Smith Westerns

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