Somewhere between a creek, a forest, a few dark rain clouds and a thousand or so wildflowers, stood Beth Whitney by her cabin in Plain, trying to make sense of a chaotic world.
That was last Friday, but far from the first time Whitney has drifted off in thought amidst the natural beauty surrounding her home.
Creating music is like unraveling a tangled fishing line, there is no end, but it’s something Whitney said she just has to do, “so I don’t lose my mind.”
Whitney is a singer and guitarist based in Plain. Her genre is “wild orchestral folk” — there’s no hashtag for it, but there should be, she joked.
Whitney has been releasing songs since 2007. Her music has taken her on tours across the U.S., brought in millions of streams on Spotify as well as a 2017 song performance with the Wenatchee Valley Symphony.
The idea for her upcoming album, “Into the Ground,” came to Whitney while she was working in her garden. There is a theme of looking deeper into the ground to see what’s in the soil and “see what goes into who we are,” she said.
The nature-themed album combines folksy guitar and singing with a woodsy upright bass played by Aaron Fishburn.
Whitney’s vegetable garden is situated next to various wildflowers in a forest sprawling with pine and fir trees, birds and shrubbery.
“Dirt’s not just dirt, it’s this very complex thing that we have to … take care of,” she said.
Whitney uses music as a way to untangle chaos and “turn it into something beautiful,” she said. What is beautiful often sits next to many of life’s internal difficulties.
This album is a follow-up to Whitney’s 2017 release, “The Wild Unrest,” an album she wrote shortly after moving from western Washington to the Wenatchee Valley.
“You’re not just in the woods now, you’re in the ground. You’re looking around at what is beautiful and healthy and what is going into that,” she said. “Let’s see who we are and why.”
Hopefully listeners of the new album can, at least for a minute, feel like they are in the woods when hearing these songs, she said. Being outside next to nature over here is not something everyone gets to do.
Whitney said she does not normally start a big album project with an agenda, rather she just writes the songs that are in her mind and sees where it takes her.
Postpartum depression and anxiety are both struggles Whitney has faced that “make it feel like my bones are made of lead,” she said. Creating is a way to reach back up and come alive.
“I think songs are very powerful,” said Whitney.
Whitney said she has been asked why she always writes in minor keys: “Maybe I’m sad ?’” said Whitney, followed by a laugh. “Maybe I wrote it because I didn’t know what else to do, and loneliness tends to be in minor key. There’s a tension to it in your own spirit — I don’t think we’re supposed to be alone. I don’t think we’re supposed to walk through this stuff feeling isolated.”
The kindness and support in the Wenatchee Valley community has been overwhelmingly great, she said.
“I feel really honored to be able to just live in this area, where there are so many opportunities to go outside … and just go be next to trees,” she said
“Into the Ground” is set to be released on Friday, May 28. Listeners can find Whitney’s music on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Local Jams is an occasional series that features and shares the work of Wenatchee Valley music artists.