You could call the musical marriage of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland a star-crossed creative partnership. The husband and wife duo behind Whitehorse defies the math of one plus one with their inventive, expansive new album The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss and a live show that beats the band with its chemistry and complexity.
With The Fate of the World, Whitehorse makes good on the promise of the their self-titled debut, the album that officially and finally brought their solo careers together. They made their entrance as a band in August 2011, with an 8-song collection that played to their strengths with equal parts blues-stomp and ballad, seedy tale and sweet nothing. Their new album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, to be released in the USA on January 8, 2013, showcases their fusion of blistering guitar work and perfectly matched vocals, as well the expanding range of creative possibility that comes as Whitehorse develops and focuses their sound.
From the opening track, the psychedelic-meets-Spaghetti Western scorch of “Achilles’ Desire” to the sunset-on-water acoustic sparkler “Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song),” the clever pop of “Out Like A Lion,” and the pulp influenced suspense of "Devil’s Got A Gun,” the album covers impressive ground without compromising its artistic coherence. Song by song, the record takes surprising turns; Whitehorse’s willingness to take risks while staying true to their “futuristic roots” vision makes for captivating listening (Now Magazine).
Luke Doucet produced the album, and plays a large part of the instruments. McClelland brings vocals and piano to the record. The songwriting process is collaborative without erasing their individual styles; imaginative narratives bear McClelland's fingerprint, while the intimate personal stories tend to come from Doucet. And, of course, there are love songs, sweet but not sugary ballads that are pure romance. And, of course, there are love songs, sweet but not sugary ballads that are pure romance. On working in the studio, McClelland says they “start with a song that’s important to us and just take it where it needs to go.”
It’s one thing to show innovative production on a record; it’s another to bring it to the stage. Whitehorse’s live show wrests complex layers of percussion, keyboard and telephone receiver amplification with looping pedals, adding complicated (and risky) elements into their mesmerizing guitar work and smoldering vocal chemistry. "We have a pretty complicated setup on stage," McClelland says. "We're looping rhythms. Luke has a kick drum and I have a stomp box, and we have seven guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, tons of percussion. So for a lot of the songs, we're building pretty complicated loops and playing along to that. We're building it very organically on stage so anything can happen. It's gone very wrong, and very right.”
Since their debut last year, Whitehorse has been on a tear, with a sold out tour across Canada and a packed house at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre last February. On the strength of that showing, the band was booked to make their headline debut at Massey Hall, Canada’s Carnegie, on March 2, 2013. With The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, Whitehorse continues to build the story, with emphatic enthusiasm in early press and critical approval.
McClelland is known for bringing bloody-knuckled tales of bad apples to life. She often shares the stage with Sarah McLachlan as touring partner and backing vocalist. Victoria Day, Melissa’s latest solo album, hit the Top 5 Most Added on the Americana Radio Chart in the US, and cemented her status as an “uncommonly talented” artist in Canada, says national daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail.
Luke Doucet is known internationally for his guitar playing, most notably his scorching work on his signature Gretsch White Falcon. As noted in a feature in Guitar Player Magazine, “whenever and wherever Luke Doucet hits the stage, he wrestles every last ounce of Neil Young-battles-Brian Setzer twang out of his gleaming cream-and-gold companion.” Doucet’s most recent solo release, Steel City Trawler, was described as “a late-’70s ride to the grocery store in a big, gas-guzzling Lincoln Town Car,” and attracted four-star reviews across the board, as well as a Juno Nomination.
Individually, they have been recognized with awards and nominations from the Juno Awards, Polaris, Canadian Folk Music and Independent Music Awards. So with two strong solo careers, why Whitehorse? The theme of tempting fate appears again when considering how much the stakes have been raised: “We’re kind of breaking one of the cardinal rules. We’re getting away with murder. This isn’t supposed to work. It’s supposed to end in a hail of bullets and tears,” Doucet has said.
On The Fate of This World Depends on This Kiss, Whitehorse plays both lion and lamb. The simultaneously savage and sinuous album will be released January 8, 2013 on Six Shooter Records.