If I had to jot down a line graph representing how my musical knowledge grows, it would have steep peaks, followed by plateaus of variable length. During the flat periods, I incessantly play the same 15 songs I have discovered in the antecedent weeks. I will only leave the comfort of what I’ve already established to be good if I sense the new stuff could be equal or superior. 

Two Years not only snapped me out of a plateau as flat as the sourdough loaves I attempted to bake during lockdown, but it sent me straight into another, all-consuming period of stall. For a solid two weeks, I pitched the album to anyone that would listen and I played it treacherously at any social gatherings (of six people or fewer!) with a host naive enough to leave me in control of the music. 

The release of Two Years in February 2021 was timely. The majority of the world was stuck in their living rooms, hardly able to tell a Wednesday from a Sunday and longing for any experience that didn’t involve a walk in the park or a trip to the supermarket. And Whitney K (aka Konner Whitney) had all the stories we needed, written poignantly and unpretentiously. Maple Death Records, which is currently dishing out gem after gem (see: Qlowski and their recently released Quale Futuro, and Se Ci Fosse La Luce Sarebbe Bellissimo, by Black Saagan) describes Two Years as a “deep dive into the Canadian songwriter’s journey through vulnerability, change and ultimately letting his guard down”. And a deep dive it is, an earnest one, through Whitney’s path of self-acceptance. 

Just like in real life, the route is not linear. We start with the reflective humming of the John Cale-esque “Good Morning”, which ends in a dubious proposition of change; a question mark with the best intentions but no idea of where to start. In “Trans-Canada Oil Boom Blues” there is nostalgia and contempt for the sins of greed of the Great White North, in “Last Night #2” the self-irony required to really accept oneself, eventually. “Me Or The Party” delivers feelings in a straightforward, wistful, old-country ballad, as simple as it is relatable.

The cheerful “Maryland” bears the happy ending we were all rooting for: “She says she loves you / So take the money and let her love you / Ride providence as it begs to be rode / To Maryland and beyond”. It’s an uplifting, hopeful track, and God knows we need both hope and uplifting this year. 

Disclaimer: there is some Lou Reed in Whitney’s voice. And by some, I mean a lot. Where you stand on Reed’s singing style is your own jam to get out of, but in Two Years the combination of a raspy tone, an almost spoken inflection, and flat notes make the whole journey sound woefully sincere.  

Two Years is an unassuming record that reaches you with a honesty that feels like a hug. It’s believable, and sometimes the comfort of the truth – as unglamorous as it might be – is just what we need.

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