Forever Turned Around came together over several sessions across the country. Though Julien Ehrlich is Whitney’s lead singing drummer while Max Kakacek is the lead guitarist, when writing, both transcend their roles to piece together each offering lyrically and compositionally. Challenging each other is the core of their songwriting partnership.
It’s these risks and experiments that make Forever Turned Around a triumph. Take opener Giving Up, which started from a stream-of- conscious revelation when Ehrlich improvised the chorus while Kakacek played Wurlitzer. What began as a nod to Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall 1971 in an afternoon turned into a heart-rending and relatable song about the ups and downs of long-term relationships. Over twinkling piano, Ehrlich sings, “Though we started losing touch / I’ve been hanging on because / You’re the only one I love.” He explains, “In a relationship, you don’t stay at the same level at all times. You go through weeks where you’re closed off.”
After a session with producers Bradley Cook (Hand Habits, Hiss Golden Messenger) and Jonathan Rado (Weyes Blood, Father John Misty) helped colour in the arrangements, the album truly revealed itself when they reunited with original rhythm guitarist Ziyad Asrar in his basement Chicago studio—the same place where they hashed out much of their critically acclaimed 2016 debut, Light Upon The Lake. “Getting down there was so important because we’ve always used that basement for music. The comfort and familiarity mattered but having Ziyad be a buffer between us was so helpful,” says Ehrlich. With Asrar, songs like Song For Ty and Forever Turned Around effortlessly came together.