After nearly a decade in New York City, alt-country rocker Whitney Lockert finds refuge and renewal in Los Angeles and classic country/rock songcraft on his sophomore LP, Long Way to California (out July 15th). The record plays like a series of musical postcards from pasts and futures, both real and imagined, and draws on Lockert’s varied work with artists like Nigerian reggae star Majek Fashek, and former lead guitarist of The Black Crowes, Marc Ford.
Long Way to California is about recognizing where you are and searching for something new, learning from mistakes and triumphs, and seeking contentment among the confusions of modern life. Lockert pens wry and deadly honest lyrics, lightened with occasional touches of levity. His musical brilliance stems from an encyclopedic knowledge and reverence for stalwart Americana bards like Neil Young, Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, Steve Earle, and Buck Owens. He toys with classic country tropes, subverting them with humor and modern insight, while blending them with anthemic folk rock, psychedelic guitar leads and the occasional Bakersfield lilt.
Long Way to California is about movement and longing, the desire for love, and the risk to venture somewhere new in search of a better life. Taken together, Lockert’s memories and reveries form an album that not only tells the stories of the artist’s life but invites its audience to reflect on their own journeys and hoped-for destinations. For now, you’ll find Whitney in California, with a girlfriend and a dog, and another song always on its way.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the album opener and title track “Long Way to California,” a song that lays out the album’s themes of seeking contentment and a place in the world. It contemplates leaving everything behind and hitting the road “in an old dirty car,” in search of a place to “build something old.” It’s about looking for love, stability, and room to grow. Lockert’s lived-in baritone vocals soar above the music, which showcases airy, layered guitars, the subtle touch of an organ to add a bit of soul, and an infectious, anthemic chorus brimming with harmonies. Bringing together the pop-minded rock and roll of Tom Petty with an alt-country sound, the song seems to bask in a golden California light. In a time when real rock and roll was more appreciated in the mainstream, this tune would surely be a hit. Closing it a blistering electric guitar solo, the song ends on a high that leaves you wanting more.
Lockert describes the inspiration behind the song:
“’Long Way to California’ is a bit of a daydream road trip fantasy song, about looking for a new home and missing an old one at the same time. It’s also about looking for the right person to make a new home with, and the idea that with the right person you might be able to break free of your own limitations and hang ups that keep you stuck in your own places and patterns. Musically I wanted a rich sound, something like the Jeff Lynne productions for Tom Petty, hence the keyboards, backing vocals, and layered guitars.”