Coming apart, and back together, with William Luke White

White’s eponymous solo debut from Nine Mile Records echoes the times

By Shannon Seaton, for StoryBoard’s SoundBoard

Inspiration is so often driven by challenge. Sometimes those challenges are insignificant, and other times they are life altering.  

In the case of William Luke White, he pulled vitality from his fight with an astrocytoma brain tumor. His musical journey has been noteworthy, and this project is no different. White’s vivacity is evident – his sound is compelling.

In his self-titled solo debut, White takes us inside the human psyche and attacks moments of personal loss and judgment. His expressions of regret and longing are resolute and forthcoming, eliciting commonality in suffering and joy. White’s upbeat, almost pop-like rhythms paired with his sentiments of monotony and regularity make for an intriguing combination. The music is hopeful, yet with splashes of organized chaos.

“I saw you walkin’ down the street, you didn’t look a thing like me. Got a view of your big brown eyes, don’t you tell me none of your lies.”

His Track “(Tell Me) Where Ya From From” echoes sentiments that we have become almost numb to: the probing attitude that we all hear so often; questioning belonging, judging backgrounds, and highlighting differences. White employs exuberant horns and his vocal inflection to express interrogative moments that so many have come to see so often. The track is lively, jazzy with moments of repetition providing a bridge from White’s commentary on our country’s climate to his sound. 

 William Luke White

William Luke White’s William Luke White

From Nine Mile Records

Released October 2nd: Listen and buy here today

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While “(Tell Me) Where Ya From From” provides an external discourse, “Glory Lines” becomes something much more personal and intimate. White examines the monotony of our days, and the way he positions it against our passions is magical. The guitars feel dreamlike, and drive his chorus.

“Everybody keeps on clocking my time, going forward and forward, and I’m going round and round, but my loves going wild.”

The song embodies a coming apart and then back together. While this track feels deeply personal, it is something that we can all relate to. White’s acceptance and expression of the human necessity to rebuild is poignant and timely. 

“My Worst” taps right into human nature, it strips down and lays bare. White’s willingness to write about these “worst” parts is vulnerable and honest. It’s musically exhilarating with screaming guitars and strong percussion accompanied by melodic back-up singing. It’s just a good ol’ great time. The song is very short, and the length feels intentional – don’t we all hope for our worst moments to be brief? As people, as Americans, we may not have much in common, but one thing we certainly have in common is that we all have moments we are not proud of. White’s exploration of this emotion, a so-long from almost-regrets, is connective. 

Writing an album that is both insightful and has good vibes must be a challenge. The album is hopeful and inspiring without avoiding life’s inevitable moments of opposition. White manages to give us pure heart, without sparing that Memphis soul. His long career as a musician is evident – he has distinguished his own personal style, and he is running with it.  

You can see White perform at the Nine Mile Records take over of the Levitt Shell Live Stream on Saturday October 3rd at 7:30 pm, and his album will be released worldwide on Friday October 2nd. 

Shannon Seaton contributes to StoryBoard’s SoundBoard. Shannon has a Master’s Degree in Literature, grew up in a very small town in rural Tennessee, moved to Memphis at 18 and didn’t look back. “I fell madly in love with the grit and soul of this city.”

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