Some people are the rambling type. They don’t feel like they have roots where they’re from. The wind blows and they feel it catch them like a leaf. The road calls like a siren and they obey its song. Lots of people find themselves kings and queens of the road this way. Something inside them, or something about the place they’re from, compels them to hit the ejector seat and blast off into the atmosphere. And like the resulting freefall, the journey they embark on is only liberatory for so long. Usually, shorter than expected. The ground willl rise to meet you fast and there is no way of reversing gravity’s hold in order to evert the impact.
Whitney K aka Konnor Whitney portrays himself as one such rolling stone on his debut Two Years. An album that depicts the past twenty-four months of his life as a downhill slide that takes him through Vancouver, Montreal, Burnaby, and Los Angeles, like a river of eroded silt and discarded appliances, eventually flowing in a slurry pond somewhere out in Maryland. Konnor wraps the pain of his impoverished nomadic lifestyle with a kind of ironic detachment from his circumstances. One that mimics the aloof affect of Lou Reed and John Cale in both substance and form, especially on the rutty, rag-time stroll “Trans-Canada Oil Boom Blues” and blinding false hope of the gospel garlanded gut-check “The Weekend.”
Something Konnor seems to reflect on a lot throughout the course of Two Years is the fact that a person can’t actually outrun your problems. Where ever they go, they’re going to find themselves in the same situation over and over again, because the thing they’re actually trying to evade is the contents of their own head. This epiphany is amusingly hinted at on the sardonically titled opener “Good Morning,” which feels like a straight no-chaser, dead-on, look in the mirror, on a morning when the narrator would rather not be alive, let alone awake and returning his own gaze over the bags under his eyes. These moments of clarity are fleeting though as the cheek-chewing, country amble “Last Night #2” clarifies, where lyrically, an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction with one’s life is brandished like a medal of honor, and shaving one’s head is depicted as a substitute for self-reflection.
Through wit and grit and callbacks to the antique forms of rock and folk, Konnor takes us through a journey of self-annihilation that ends right where it started, with a man staring himself self in the face wondering how he made such a mess of his own life. Two years is a long time to be living so hard, and yet, some manage to make a lifestyle out of it. Two Years is just a taste of the private deprivation that some wake up to each morning, delivered with a welcome dose of delicious irony. It’s a good thing Konnor mixed in so much sugar as the strong servings of truth he’s serving, like hot cups of black coffee, are strong enough to strip your stomach lining as if it was turpentine splashed on an oil painting.
You can stream the entirety of Whitney K’s Two Years below via Bandcamp: