Who’s that writin’: Whitehorse share their take on “John The Revelator,” an ominous reckoning with a modern apocalypse in mind. Listen here.
Hot off holiday album coverage from Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, CBC’s q, The Edge and more, Toronto duo keeps rolling with The Northern South Vol. 2, out next week (1/18/19).
“These are six songs from the past, but Whitehorse revive them through their alternative instrumental contributions and their inventive vocals.” – PopMatters
Whitehorse delve into end of days overtones with a fuzzed out, swampy take on the nearly century-old seven seals song “John The Revelator,” the third track the duo has shared in advance of The Northern South Vol. 2’s upcoming release on Jan 18, 2019.
In keeping with the larger mission of The Northern South project, where Whitehorse transpose 50s and 60s blues cuts into a contemporary framework, the duo’s treatment of “John The Revelator” sees the biblical signs of the apocalypse modified to comment on present realities: political, environmental and beyond. “We wanted to tell a more current, relevant tale,” says Melissa McClelland, one half of the duo. “We pieced together the lyrics from several different versions to form something new, to touch on the end of days issues that feel pressing to us: global warming, Trump presidency, consumerism and religion itself, among other things.” Luke Doucet adds, “There’s a long history of rewriting this classic; many renditions include reworked lyrics since Blind Willie Johnson recorded it. So we’re not taking special liberties here but rather continuing the tradition of reinterpreting the story for the current era, as has repeatedly been the fashion.”
From the depression and disaster of the song’s 1930s origins to the present-day calamities that weigh on Whitehorse’s minds, “John The Revelator” remains an ominous and churning narrative, an unsettling minor key disaster fantasy. “John The Revelator” is much darker in tone than the previous tracks released thus far, the willingly provocative “Baby, Scratch My Back” and the back-and-forth self-blame game of “Who’s Been Talkin’.” Whitehorse’s harmonies and their canny interplay of lead vocals play exceptionally well as a reframing device throughout The Northern South’s two volumes (the first released in 2016) to underline the saucy, shady and slinky nuances of early blues.
The Northern South Vol. 2 will be released on January 18, 2019.