Lana Winterhalt’s debut LP If & When is an indie-pop triumph, pushing the singer-songwriter’s vocal power and intelligent, thoughtful musicality to the forefront of the genre.
If & When is at once beautiful and eerie, pairing Winterhalt’s airy vocals and pared-down instrumentals with unnerving harmonies and unsettling additions – like the steady helicopter drones on “If You Were Mine (Intro)” and the imperfect whistling at the tail end of “Tell Me It’ll Be Okay.”
While Winterhalt’s method of blending unique sounds together to craft a wholly original indie-pop sound is the standout of the album, her writing demands not to be overlooked. Each song crafts the architecture of a scene – about love, about heartbreak, about the dark – with a direct and unapologetic tone.
“It wasn’t really anything special, just your high school romance that lasted the summer / But I still get fire in my cheeks when I see a car like yours,” Winterhalt croons on “Nice For a While.”
Even the production of each song seems to reach from beginning to end of the album; “If & When (Outro)” mirrors “If You Were Mine (Intro)” in its details and instrumentals, but adds a bright, driving beat to close the album on a higher note.
Between her adeptness at storytelling and her ear for crafting a narrative through sound, Winterhalt has secured her spot as one of Winnipeg’s premiere singer-songwriters.
by Graeme Houssin
Published in Volume 73, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 17, 2019)