The Wild Unrest

Beth Whitney

Independent release, 2017

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Perhaps better known as half of the soulful folk duo The Banner Days, Beth Whitney—at least on this solo effort—takes a more cathartic and therapeutic approach to sort through the darkness that fell upon her after having her first child. While the songs were birthed in a cabin home free from technology, the journey to flesh the tracks out in the studio was far from easy for Whitney, as she overcame plenty of personal hurdles in the process.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first song, “Raven,” is a chilling folk stunner, where Whitney's hushed yet majestic vocals are met with aching orchestral moments that occasionally build into an emotional expanse of artistic imagery. “Shadows Of A Man” follows and is similarly dark and emotive, but moves at a quicker pace with subtle Americana.

Of the longer songs on the album, “Turnwater” is a folk and orchestral gem with soft and warm vocals  paired with aching, lush instrumentation, while “Tides Are For Sirens” brings in backing vocals and alternates between sparse introspection and fuller moments of ebullience. The longest tune here, “Days Of Nights,” falls near the end of the listen and manipulates vocal pitch in a chilling indie-folk masterpiece of beautiful self-expression. The only work that isn't Whitney's is a reworking of Linda Pastan's poem “Fireflies,” where Whitney draws parallels to Bon Iver with playful and bright folk-pop.

Though there may only be seven songs here, each one is splendid and warrants repeated listens. Sure, Whitney's subtly powerful voice is the focus here, but cellos, violins, upright bass, baritone ukulele and plenty of other sophisticated noisemakers are part of the arsenal as well. While there's no shortage of similar artists out there, the sweeping and dark elegance of The Wild Unrest is among the best of the genre and Whitney's imagery is nothing short of breathtaking.

Rating: A

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