Sometimes Whitney Tai’s music is fragile, delicate, barely entering your ears. At other times it is fierce, dense, demanding of every one of your senses. But either way, it touches your heart with a power that is hard to define but instantly recognizable. “Sleepwalking to the Moon” touched my heart, light as a feather but as sharp as a hypodermic.
“Sleepwalking to the Moon” was written by Tai and Andrew Kingsley with Tai’s fragile-sharp lyrics and ageless childlike voice, “Produced by Tim Janssens and Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in Los Angeles, it is another example of Tai’s sense of design in sound and her deft hand at guiding and crafting recordings that are a natural soundscape for her voice and her poetry.
It is her poetry that gives “Sleepwalking to the Moon” such power beneath her so breakable but so strong voice. Wide awake and dead asleep at the same time, she opens the song in nine brief words that give you a life history and an interior look that is miles deep. She has to live her life, but maybe not willingly: Can I face the truth again? While the blood is running thin. Sleepwalking to the moon, she tunefully whispers over Andrew Kingsley’s perfectly pitched, simple guitar strum. You can see her in orbit, floating between peace and pain, balanced between the earth and the moon.
“Sleepwalking to the Moon” orbits not only space but your mind. It keeps circling, never burning up in your atmosphere of distractions, keeping you transfixed, even as you go about your day. “Am I sleepwalking to the moon?” you ask yourself as the chorus I’m a million miles away, tell my friends I’m ok, replays again and again in your mind and in your ears. Maybe we are all sleepwalking to the moon, maybe Tai is on to something — an eternal truth.
Tai has been forced to contemplate eternal truths in her life. She lost the person who most encouraged her creative work, traumatizing Tai for some time. As she dealt with depression, anxiety, weight loss, and fear she used the time to learn to channel the pain into poems and songs that are honest and understandable. The result has been, for me, three years of some of the best dream pop and alt-rock I have ever heard, with “Sleepwalking to the Moon” the latest in her heavenly body of work. We are all richer for it, whether we are sleepwalking to the moon or present every moment – or both at once, as Whitney Tai seems to be able to do.
Patrick O’Heffernan is co-host of the LA-based, nationally syndicated weekly program, Music FridayLive! and is a music reviewer for online magazines Vents, The Hollywood Progressive and MusicJunkie. He has also co-hosted a national political talk show, The Fairness Doctrine, and hosted the “Uplinks” media segment on Saturday All Things Considered on NPR. He holds a PhD in International Relations from MIT, has been awarded an Emmy, four Addy’s, and a Webby-Honors, among other awards. He has published 5 books and ghost-written others. A project he co-launched, the North Asia Nuclear Free Zone, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He serves on the Board of Netroots Nation.