It’s a shame we write “Best Albums of the Year” lists so early in December. Sure, some of us hear our favourite albums of the year in early January, but other artists don’t release their work until the twelfth month, effectively taking themselves out of consideration for a spot on the list, despite being so clearly deserving. Such is the case with Leland Whitty’s Anyhow, a stunning debut solo album from the multi-instrumentalist of BADBADNOTGOOD recognition.
The Toronto-based musician, signed with Innovative Leisure, starts his first solo endeavour with “Svalbard,” a track that begins with cosmic sounds reminiscent of the place itself, but soon moves into a more mellow, controlled sound meant to convey the emotions one might feel there – wonder, reflection, loneliness. It offsets the temperament felt in other tracks, like “Awake” and “Windows,” which have a decidedly more traditional jazz sound, though still accompanied by contemporary motifs.
A known flautist, Whitty imbues woodwinds, particularly the aforementioned flute, in many tracks, such as “Silver Rain,” a track that’s also heavy on saxophone and abounding with runs that can only be produced by a skilled player. The entire album is 29 minutes of evidence that Whitty is more than familiar with musical instruments.
If Anyhow didn’t make it onto your list of most-listened-to albums of 2022, it’s purely from circumstance, and it’ll likely top your list in 2023 – and perhaps beyond. Full of dazzling melodies with trancing instrumentals, Whitty’s record was deliberately pieced together. It’s a shining example of what can result when a visionary has control of his own narrative. Consider Anyhow an early Christmas gift and hope for many more albums of this calibre to follow from Whitty.