For his debut solo album, multi-instrumentalist Leland Whitty pieced together a masterclass of song craft while still approaching his music with a passionate gusto. Anyhow is Whitty’s first new music since 2020 saw him release two collaborative albums with fellow BadBadNotGood band member Matthew Tavares. Throughout the seven compositions presented, Whitty strung together a hypnotic plot that unfolds through gentle melodies and vibrant textures, all being filtered through some sort of whimsical portal before exiting the speakers.
Anyhow shows the influence Whitty had on his two previous releases with Tavares. His signature sweeping and swaying string arrangements are the cornerstone of the sonics used on his latest album. These songs have a light-hearted nature to them that is overtly pleasant without sounding like they’re trying to be. While this approach doesn’t leave much room for experimentation, it does leave us with a consistent, exciting, easily enjoyable album that toes the line between spacious ambiance and robust arrangements.
The intimacy of these songs comes in the subtlety of their structure. Through the use of tone, Whitty is able to conjure up a dynamic cast of textures that are welcoming and warm. The way a song like “Windows” plays is a perfect example of how Whitty’s creative approach is truly unique. The muted wind instruments play on the twirling string arrangements, almost dancing with each other to create the earthy mood of the song. While the pacing of a song like this is on the slow side, Whitty is able to keep us interested through the unpredictability of his melodies.
Whitty’s experience in scoring movies shows when you realize how cinematic Anyhow plays. It feels as if the artist was able to pack a full two-hour film into a 30-minute runtime. The expansive sonics used on these songs take over the room and feel large without sacrificing the gentleness that makes these songs so charming. The horn melodies executed on “Silver Rain” are a highlight of the album and an example of how Whitty is able to paint pictures with his compositions. The horns play like howling hyenas while the backing of the gentle guitar-plucking and soft drum pattern adds a layer of depth to the song.
Listening to Leland Whitty’s latest LP, Anyhow, is like pairing a shot of whisky with a cup of mint tea. Its intoxicating, lush sound and textured ambiance continue to spin you around as you fall deeper into a trance prompted by whispering melodies and arrangements that are more akin to a novel than anything. Whitty made a gorgeous, endearing statement with this album that despite its short time in the world, already feels ageless.