Gothic Americana Artist Amanda Winterhalter Showcases Awe-Inspiring Vocal Talents Via “What’s This Death”

What’s This Death, the forthcoming release from Seattle-based gothic Americana singer-songwriter Amanda Winterhalter, weaves together threads of 1960s girl group AM pop, soothing indie Americana, blues-tinged southern rock, and even threads of chamber pop and post-punk. The record’s diverse range informs a new Americana that connects with the heart and mind as swiftly as the ears. Both timeless and absolutely of the moment, the record’s melodic peaks and valleys are lashed together by the crystalline tsunami that is Winterhalter’s voice; an instrument of grace and power, arresting and hypnotic from the start. 

Winterhalter began her career performing as a solo artist around Seattle in the 2010s, and over time became grafted into a close-knit community of like-minded musicians. Empowered by a collective of some of Seattle’s premier session players, she released her debut LP Olea in 2016. Shortly thereafter a core four-piece band collected around her, with Olea producer Geoff Larson (Das Vibenbass) on upright bass, Nick Drozdowicz on electric guitar, and Rick Weber on drums. In 2018 the ensemble expanded to include Ed Brooks (Pineola) on pedal steel. 

2018 proved productive for Winterhalter and the band. Inspired by their continued growth, they undertook a steady routine of rehearsing and performing. This, in turn, further strengthened both the creative bond between members and their ability to improvise with one another organically. 

With a strong set of songs written throughout the Cascadian region, and wrought in the forge of live performance, they set out to capture that magic. The stars aligned when they met Johnny Sangster (Jesse Sykes, Mark Lanegan, Smokey Brights) through mutual friends in the Seattle music scene. With his extensive experience in the studio and on stage, and his gift for working with vintage and analog equipment, Winterhalter knew that Sangster was the one to bring her vision to life. 

In addition to the band, What’s This Death features harmonies from Joy Mills (Joy Mills Band) and Leslie Braly (Pineola), who frequently join the band at live shows, plus guest musicians Dan Walker (Amy Ray, Ann Wilson, Heart, LeRoy Bell) on keys, Alex Guy (Led to Sea, Kathy Moore, Sera Cahoone) on strings, and Reggie Garrett (Reggie Garrett and the Snake Oil Peddlers) on background vocals. Engineered and produced by Sangster, the album was recorded to tape at his studio, Crackle & Pop!, in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. 

Though not an intentional concept album, the songs on What’s This Death touch on loss, distance, death, and reformation; and ultimately the grief that comes with them. Interlocking pieces of something deeper, each song offers a moment of reflection for Winterhalter on her journey from childhood in an evangelical, conservative community to life as an adult outside of the church. For her, this process of discovering the new while grieving the old is about “finding a greater confidence and grounding into a self-known and self-actualized identity and voice.” 

Glide is thrilled to premiere “What’s This Death” (below) a courageous work of the aching soul that is equally stunning and thought-provoking. Winterhalter showcases head-turning vocals that makes for a fascinating Adele meets Wanda Jackson vocal stew. 

“A couple of years ago, I was commissioned to write a song inspired by a Seattle author’s short story (“Principles of Flight,” by Bridget Foley). The story is about a woman who gets cancer and grows a pair of featherless wings from her shoulder blades as she is slowly dying. The dark magic realism of the story reminded me of the weight and starkness of traditional death ballads, like Berzilla Wallin singing Conversation with Death. That traditional conversation gives death all the power, and it’s all just doom for the speaker at the end. I like John Donne’s take in his Holy Sonnet 10, so I wrote a different kind of ending for this conversation.

Check Amanda out at Seattle’s Town Hall this Saturday, August 10th for her Single Release Concert. Preorder the album here..


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