Great Records You May Have Missed: Winter 2020

March 24, 2020

Halfway through The Dream—the second album from the Iowa-born, Nashville-based country singer Hailey Whitters—the 80-year-old woman drinking next to Whitters takes the mic. A gentle ballad with a sweeping chorus, “Janice at the Hotel Bar” is filled with advice, jokes, and subtle characterizations that make you feel like you’re sipping alongside them. Singing in the voice of the titular character, Whitters directs the narrative while she stars in it, choosing which angles to portray and when to pull back and illustrate her characters’ larger philosophies. It’s been five years since Whitters’ last album, and you get the sense that she’s spent that time studying quiet scenes like this. The Dream is the work of a songwriter who’s learned that becoming a great storyteller means being a good listener first. —Sam Sodomsky

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

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