Chicago band Whitney has released a new cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” featuring the searing guest vocals of Waxahatchee. As if that weren’t enough, Whitney has also served up a version of the R&B classic “Rain” by SWV.
While these two covers come from very different sonic backgrounds, together they help demonstrate the range of Whitney’s rock and country-soul sound. Drummer/vocalist Julien Ehrlich brings “Take Me Home, Country Roads” up an octave, allowing his relaxed tenor to float above those iconic southern riffs. For Waxahatchee, aka Katie Crutchfield, this kind of melody is her bread and butter. Her voice obliterates his when they join together for the chorus. But this happens when one half of the duet has a bigger natural instrument than the other, and the band doesn’t want to spend weeks on the mix. For the most part it works, with her sharper tones cutting through his gentler intonations.
According to guitarist Max Kakacek, “We knew that Katie was destined to sing this with us. We both heard her live and she has this classic country vibe. Once we heard her voice on it, it was pretty much magical. Her contribution is perfect.”
Whitney’s take on “Rain” is a more drastic transformation, lacking the three-part harmony and that wet, percussive dripping sound of the original. Here, the boys from Chicago peel back layers of production to reveal the timeless melody underneath.
In a statement, Ehrlich explained what makes “Rain” so special to him.
“My relationship with SWV goes back to my UMO days, when I was 19 in the van and listening to ‘Right Here’. I’ve been obsessed with them since I was a teenager. The song interpolates Jaco Pastorious’ “Portrait of Tracy”, which is one of my favorite basslines ever.”
Check out “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with Waxahatchee and “Rain” below.
On Thursday, June 4th, Whitney will perform a Livestream concert to benefit the National Independent Venue Association, an organization that’s helping independent concert venues and promoters survive the dual scourges of coronavirus and Ticketmaster. The event will be hosted by NoonChorus, and tickets are available through the website.
Covers are nothing new for Whitney, and just last winter they shared a new take on Wilco’s “Far, Far Away”.