There’s a deep sense of sadness at the heart of ‘Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs’, the latest single from Portland’s Whitney Walker. The song references a quote from the priest at his cousin’s wedding, a line that resonated with Walker who was trying to cope with his fiancee being unfaithful at the time. Understandably, it’s sombre and reflective but it’s ultimately a song about trying to forgive and move forward. A team of talented players support Walker in creating a full and melancholy sound, but particular praise goes to Dana Colley, whose bass clarinet really helps to give ‘Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs’ its identity. The accompanying video was filmed, directed and edited by Sarah Violette, who brings a cinematic, narrative feel to the song, reinforcing the themes around turbulent love, heartaches and doomed relationships.
Walker told AUK about his influences and what inspired ‘Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs’: “My music is informed by mostly American sources: Califone from Chicago, Crooked Fingers from North Carolina, Neutral Milk Hotel from Louisiana are all major influences on the sound of ‘Love Keeps No Record Of Wrongs’. It’s also informed by acoustic American blues sources such as Son House and Robert Johnson, although it’s probably way more simplistic than those sources. My lyrics and singing are informed by Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and countless others, including Morphine, so it was really exciting to work with Dana Colley on this record. His bass clarinet on this song works so well with my acoustic guitar because he’s a legend and acutely sensitive to what a song needs.
The line, ‘Nobody would accuse me of being perfect / Except god of course,’ really speaks to me. The god word is just an easy way to describe a feeling. While I don’t believe in god per se, I do believe in a power that’s greater than me, who forgives and forgets when humans can’t. I think I’m what you’d call an agnostic in that sense. I believe in something but I’m not sure what it is. The thought is that everyone deserves forgiveness and I hope it speaks to people in a universal way. Forgiveness leads to enlightenment. Forgiveness is a type of mercy in my mind. It is an acknowledgment of imperfection. It is an understanding of your own faults.
I was in a very unhealthy relationship with someone I cared for dearly, that I knew it wasn’t going to work out with. I heard the line, ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs,” from a priest at my cousin’s wedding before I found out that that girl had cheated on me after she had relapsed on drugs. The line became a mantra for me to try and heal the situation even though I knew it was probably doomed forever.”
The single is from the forthcoming album ‘A Dog Staring Into a Mirror on the Floor’, which tackles a range of weighty subjects, following on from Walker’s struggles with bipolar disorder, divorce, drug addiction and homelessness. He says of the title: “These songs are about love or death. They deal with extreme emotions through the skewed lens of someone with manic depressive viewpoints, plus the addiction. What ties it all together is the title, ‘A Dog Staring Into a Mirror on the Floor’. Apparently if that happens, a dog will go insane because they see themselves infinitely through the mirror. Their brains can’t handle that. So I guess the mirror to me would be drugs and alcohol, my mom dying, my dog dying and growing up in a broken home. All that stuff leading to intense mental health issues.” This is music born of intense introspection; it’s hard but there’s also a lot of hope and positivity here, a sense of a journey towards something better. Walker adds: “My music is for the people who don’t fit in. People on the margins: drug addicts, homeless kids, closeted homosexuals, transgender folks. My dad came out to me first, which meant a lot to me, and my kid came out as non-binary. This record is for people who look out the window and wish they weren’t in school.” Check out the new album, due for release on 30th March 2023.