Release Date: May 10, 2013
This record is so good. If you haven’t read my feature article introducing you to Lance Whalen yet, please do so. I absolutely love what he’s doing as an artist. He’s also been very engaging and very intriguing to get to know. I’m very excited to get to share his music with you.
In talking with Lance about the his new EP, Sweet Sugar Pie, he shared how he really wanted this record to reflect the live experience and that his previous work had failed to capture that. Of course, you know this frustration: go to the concert, or your at the club/bar already, you like what you’re hearing so you decide to pick up the record, you get out to the car and pop it in and say “who the heck is this guy?” (Jason Mraz, I’m looking at you.) So, I can definitely appreciate a guy who wants to bring that experience home on the record.
Unfortunately for Whalen, he didn’t receive the best feedback and was encouraged to not release these recordings. As he says “none of ‘my people’ thought it was a good idea. But I just had to do it.”
What The Hell Was I Thinking: from the artist, “track one was recorded while on tour in a basement in Connecticut… at 3am with musicians who had never played with each other before. it is entirely live.” The live sound absolutely comes through in the driving rhythms and harried vocals. This is an instance where the Tom Waits vocal style really shines.
Best I Can: Lance told me that in the interim between his last album and releasing this EP, he has been doing some work for film and television. This song arose out of one of those assignments to work with a given prompt and deliver a finished product on a very short timeline. The doubled vocals, he says, were not the initial plan, but the original, live vocals needed work. I love the interplay between the original track and the overdub.
Sweet Sugar Pie: To me, this song is just heart-wrenching. I honestly want to cry when I hear it. The emotion comes through in every single note. Lyrically, it reminds me a lot of Pearl Jam’s “Dissident.” I hear the story of an outlaw on the run who is letting his guard down just for one night. He may realize that the end is near and is dreaming of a different life.
The experience is bolstered by the reality of the performance: from the artist, “I was in a car accident on the interstate while on the way to this million dollar studio where people like Taylor Swift and Alison Krauss have recorded… I showed up, recorded the song in one take and then called a friend to take me to the emergency room.”
The Way You Love Me: I haven’t connected with this track as much as I have with the others. To be fair, though, he would be hard-pressed to follow the title-track with anything. I think this one really captures that Nick Cave essence the best. I like it. It’s wonderfully melodic and the production is a welcomed change from the sparseness of the other tracks. I think that the lyrics are a little ambiguous and maybe that’s what’s kept me at a slight distance from this one.
Now, 99% of the time, if it’s available on Amazon, I’m going to suggest that you purchase it there because I’m a huge advocate for their digital music prices and customer service. But when you’ve got an artist like this grinding it out night after night in bars and clubs, I want to make sure we treat him right. With that in mind, I encourage you to purchase this directly from his website.