The Chicago-based group Whitney released a new single titled “Kansas” on August 8th; it’s the band’s second new track of 2023. Their 2023 releases follow last year’s SPARK, Whitney’s fourth full length album since their 2016 debut Light Upon the Lake.
Whitney found their home on big time indie label Secretly Canadian, alongside artists such as Current Joys, Faye Webster, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They found early success with the track “No Woman,” released in June 2016 as a single leading up to their debut album. Now four projects in, Whitney’s style and status has evolved, making them an established name in indie folk as a creative, genre-fusing act.
“Kansas” is rooted in acoustic guitar, and builds to a full arrangement that offers shakers, soft drums, huge harmonies, twangy electric guitars, and strings. During the chorus, the arrangement swells to a beautiful harmony underneath lead singer Julien Ehrlich’s emotional delivery. The use of warm, acoustic instruments as the backbone of the track gives these moments a raw resonance, emphasized by a very well balanced mix from and master from Ziyad Asrar and Alex Santilli respectively.
In an Instagram post announcing the single, the band was transparent about the track’s origin, eventual shelving, and recent resurrection. “We started ‘Kansas’ back in 2017 at the beginning of the Forever Turned Around writing sessions. The initial idea saw a couple different mutations but eventually, we fully rewrote it into the title track for LP2” they stated. Whitney decided to re-recorded the original “unfinished version” of the song this March after incorporating it into their live lineup in 2022 on a whim. “…It quickly became a centerpiece,” they said.
As of now, the band has not expressed any plans for a new project in the near future. With less than a year between “Kansas” and their 2022 album SPARKS, it would be a very fast and uncharacteristic turnaround time for the band. While “Kansas” and the band’s other 2023 single “For A While” share a new rebranded logo with the band’s recent merch line, the graphic pattern does not appear to signify more than an in-between album era.
“Kansas” is available now on all streaming platforms, and streamable below, where you can also check out Whitney’s 2016 World Cafe performance.