Leland Whitty 

Innovative Leisure • 2022

Anyhow is a heavenly collection of left-field tunes with what it takes to stand the test of time.

Lately, I’ve been envisioning heaven as a record store. A place where time has always been immaterial for me, where I could spend eternity browsing through stacks, alphabetically flipping through obscure album jackets, and reading liner notes for infinity. Crate diving forever and ever, amen. Spending all the days of my afterlife discovering late-in-the-year releases that got lost amidst every December’s best-of list baiting, like Leland Whitty’s Anyhow

It would be easy to flip right past Whitty’s solo debut (wedged between the White Stripes and Wilco) with its slightly dismissive, throwaway title, but Anyhow is hardly anything to disregard and pass over. Whitty is the most recent multi-instrumentalist addition to BADBADNOTGOOD, bolstering the band to a quartet for 2016’s IV before founder Matthew Tavares’ departure brought them back down to a trio for 2021’s Talk Memory. All this to say, Anyhow is a diminutive treat from a musician with major musical chops. There’s a definitive less-is-more-vibe to these seven tracks, none of which are overtly ostentatious or showy. Still, as he’s pointed out in the album’s liner notes on Bandcamp, Whitty’s compositions depart from his band’s improvisational work that allows Anyhow to feel grounded and cohesive. Influenced by his cinematic scoring work, he says there is narrative built into each track without an overall arc to the album. That sense of loose connection is evident in the freedom and space of his arrangements. 

Working with Julian Anderson Bowes (who plays bass on “Glass Moon” and “Anyhow”), former bandmate Tavares (on “Awake”), his current BBNG brethren Chester Hansen and Alex Sowinski (on “Silver Rain”), and his brother Lowell (who plays drums on all but one song) likely lends familiarity to Anyhow’s sound, one that is both modern and reminiscent of classic jazz. For the most part, though, Whitty plays solo with fluidity and expressiveness due primarily to the ease with which he employs elements of traditional jazz, R&B, and hip-hop in complex meters and syncopated grooves. The result is a heavenly collection of left-field tunes that hint at pop influences and structure, rub against jazz rhythms, and have what it takes to stand the test of time.

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