Everything about Jesse Witney and his beautifully soulful music epitomises Byron Bay and the juxtaposed sense of relaxation and adventure that it inspires.
This combination of tranquility and exploration is easy to understand when considering Witney’s backstory, both a Byron musical stalwart and a citizen of the world. Witney learned Portugese and lived in Brazil after being inspired by Brazillian guitar, gigging across the country, recording with Marcelo Müller, and performing the country’s traditional samba-folk under the moniker My Bossa Nova Baby.
It was in Brazil that he recorded his upcoming album, Animal Cities, which is due for release in November 2022. In the meantime, we get a tantalising taste through his single and video, ‘Higher’, released today. ‘Higher’ is part of Witney’s latest titular EP, which also featured the track ‘Apple Of My Eye’ that we raved about last year.
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Witney describes the irrestibly catchy white-soul track as “a burst of sexy sunshine” and says it’s his most radio-friendly single to date, with romantic lyricism and an upbeat hooky chorus complimenting his trademark, silky smooth vocal refrains.
The ‘Higher’ video, directed by Adele Brodskaja, further affirms the song’s aim, featuring Witney in eye makeup with long flowing hair, cavorting with two nymph-like mystical beauties in a forest, flirting with the audience as he effortlessly offers lines like “You make me feel like gold / There’s a light within my soul / And it’s only burning brighter / With you to take me higher and higher”.
Witney’s glowing musical reputation is no surprise, given he’s both ingrained into the industry on a familial level (his parents musicians and producers of the Imbil Folk festival, his brother a resident musician in Chicago), and through his environmental activism. As an ambassador for the Halfcut Organisation, all of the profits from sales of the single on Bandcamp are going towards the buying up and protecting of the Daintree Rainforest from April 20 until May 4. Direct donations are also possible.