‘What Comes Around’, the new single from Leland and the Silver Wells, is a riddle within a mystery, wrapped up in an enigma.
San Francisco native Leland Ettinger would fit perfectly in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1960s, and it’s very easy to imagine her soaking up the sunshine alongside the likes of The Byrds, and Joni Mitchell.
Indeed, even the name of her band, The Silver Wells, is taken from the fictional Nevada home town of Maria Wyeth, protagonist in Joan Didion’s book, ‘Play It As It Lays’. The book tells an at times lurid tale of Hollywood in the 60s, Ettinger has very cleverly built a story around herself set in that period, and it’s reflected not just in her music, but also her very look.
‘What Comes Around’, taken from Leland’s fourth album, ‘Straight To Your Town’, is sun-drenched and languid, her vocals stretching lazily – yet with intent – across the instrumentals. Lyrically it feels like a poem set to music, possibly assembled using the cut-up technique popularised in literature by William S. Burroughs, and in music by David Bowie. Leland sings of sacraments, and there’s hints of an almost sinister vengeance populating the song; this is accentuated by an appearance by the devil himself, and creepy-ish piano, and choral backing vocals.
The Silver Wells are a peripatetic group of top LA musicians, assembled as required by Ettinger, and including session violinist, Kaitlin Wolfberg, as well as Christof Certik, famously of Brian Jonestown’s Massacre, who make up the core of Ettinger’s travelling band. Also appearing on the album are Joe Berardi on drums, Danny Frankel, James Hazley, Bob Lee, and Nick Murray, all of whom are among the cream of Los Angeles’ musicians.
The video for ‘What Comes Around’, directed by Larissa Jaks, is similarly mystical, and certainly 60s inspired, with bleached out Kodachrome style footage, of not just Ettinger in performance, psychedelic images screened behind (and over) her, but also of her out and about in the great outdoors. While doing ordinary things such as casting petals on the waters of a gorgeous lake, she is dressed in an anything but ordinary fashion – she wears a lace veil and black gloves with a black dress, as if in mourning, all the while, her vocals are overlaid singing, ‘What goes around, will come around, straight to your town”. Wheels within wheels, a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; every time we think we come close to unravelling Leland’s song, we find ourselves all the more tangled. Perhaps she likes it that way: in any case, we’ve enjoyed the challenge.