On their breakthrough debut, 2016's Light Upon the Lake, Whitney introduced their dulcet, country-inflected songs via a seven-piece led by the gentle falsetto of singer/drummer Julien Ehrlich. Co-produced by the band and Foxygen's Jonathan Rado, the album was an alternative hit and led to extensive touring over the next couple of years. Arriving in 2019, the follow-up, Forever Turned Around, features mostly the same players, with Brad Cook (William Tyler, Hand Habits) joining Rado as co-producer, and a pair of string players including Ohmme's Macie Stewart adding further acoustic texture. The album was mixed by Tucker Martine. They collectively stick to a winning formula on Forever Turned Around, a record reinforced by members' months together on the road. Meanwhile, lyrics concern how relationships can change, often weakening over time, such as on the wistful opener, "Giving Up." Alongside strummed acoustic guitar and muted drums, it features co-songwriter and lead guitarist Max Kakacek on Wurlitzer as Ehrlich sets the stage with "Waiting for the morning sun/Are you coming home, my love?/Tears are falling one by one/I can feel you giving up." Strings and other instruments join in on more expansive choruses that repeat the words "giving up." In a role reversal, shifting seasons signal the narrator's intention to leave in "Before I Know It." Another mid-tempo track, its brighter tone is embellished by horns, strings, and playful silences. Even the jauntily bittersweet standout "Friend of Mine" involves a friend becoming increasingly distant. Though the album delivers a jammy, two-minute instrumental in "Rhododendron," the track ultimately lands more like an interlude than an outlier, and Forever Turned Around very much plays out like a world-wearier continuation of Light Upon the Lake. Sometimes no big surprises is a welcome result.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson