Lance Whalen’s music has been described as Americana Noir, which I would say is an appropriate description of both his sound and his look--think ink-black boots, suspenders, pompadour. Kentucky-born, his southern roots give him an authenticity that many artists in Americana get away with faking. Lance spent over a decade plugging away in Nashville’s singer-songwriter scene and playing in a criminally underrated boy-girl garage rock duo the Blue Velvets. His stage presence can go from pensive to menacing to unhinged, calling to mind Elvis, Jack White, Nick Cave. His ability to successfully bridge the large gap between singer-songwriter Americana and Detroit-flavored punk rock reveals his versatility as an artist. His latest solo release, the song “Muddy River,” illustrates these two worlds colliding.
Lance is also a dear friend, and I elaborate these things about myself to give a glimpse into his personality. After spending several years in Nashville, he’s the only person from that time in my life I can still call a friend. I found Nashville to be a town full of Narcissuses glued to various reflective surfaces, people who can only muscle their way through conversations by hyping up their latest projects, but with Lance I always knew I could talk about the Civil War or amphibians or the blues. He introduced me to the hill country blues artists on Fat Possum records, which have become my obsession as a scholar and historian. During a particularly bad time I received a text message from him saying he’d had a dream that I was in trouble. If I didn’t know better I’d say he was psychic. I also think Lance might be a thousand years old and have the ability to talk to frogs.