Phoenix-based singer-songwriter Whitney Fenimore calls her new song the most “me” one she has written yet.
Fenimore, however, is hesitant to reveal the inspiration for the song, titled “Find Your Love,” which BlackBook premiered on March 22. She wants to keep it ambiguous and open to fan interpretation.
“Everything that’s been going on this last year with me,” she responds, when asked about a driving force. “The overall thing would be just finding love in the midst of a struggle or a difficult situation and always fighting for that.”
That “last year” includes competing on season 13 of NBC’s The Voice, where she earned a spot on Adam Levine’s team for her rendition of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”
Change isn’t new for the 28-year-old Fenimore. She sees a continued evolution spanning her music-making career, which is why she feels her new song is different.
She notes a thread of gospel influence throughout her first project, Take Hold of Me, which she made at age 18. Two other projects – Ready. Let. Go. and In Between – are a bit different, with the latter picking up on the country roots of the city it was recorded in.
“Those both had a bit of singer-songwriter pop; just very clean recordings. One (In Between) was recorded in Nashville and the other one (Ready. Let. Go.) was recorded in Oklahoma,” she explains. “And there’s nothing wrong with them; I just felt like I wanted to go somewhere different sonically.”
The sonic evolution is apparent, she says, noting that emulating her influences as well as a four-year absence in releasing projects after 2014’s In Between are other likely factors.
“A lot of people that have heard it (“Find Your Love”) have even said, ‘Whoa, this is way different;’ I’m like, ‘Good, I wanted it to be,’” she adds with a laugh. “I think I’m finally starting to grasp exactly what I want to sound like. But I think each artist, as they put something new out, it’s always going to be a little bit different sound-wise. I think even just lyrically, too, it’s not real poppy singer-songwriter. It’s a little bit more gritty and raw, and I’m really excited about it.”
According to Fenimore, though, that four-year gap had a period of doubt. She found herself unsure of her future in music.
“I was massively struggling with depression, which I never had,” she says. “I didn’t know what that was. I felt like people threw that around when they were sad. And I had major anxiety, I was having panic attacks, I couldn’t really perform anymore, at all. I couldn’t do shows, didn’t want to write. Where music gives me life, it wasn’t, and it was a very scary time period. And so I moved home. I thought music was done.”
Home for Fenimore is Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was born and raised. At the time, she had been pursuing a music career in Los Angeles. Eventually, the opportunity to compete on The Voice came about.
“I was like ‘Damn, I have to keep doing music. This is exactly what I’m supposed to do,’” she explains of her chance at The Voice. “And it just reaffirmed that within me, so I didn’t want to waste any time, and I knew that after the show I had to release new music. So that is what I’m doing.”
Fenimore has an EP due out this summer. “Find Your Love” is just the first taste. A second single is in the pipeline, as is the full project’s official announcement.
“Honestly, I really think that each song takes you for a different kind of ride, which I like,” she explains. “Each song is very different. And honestly, each song has been written over the course of the last four years.”
Now residing in Phoenix, Fenimore says some of the EP’s songs date back to her years in Los Angeles.
“It’s kind of interesting, because each of these songs came from a different moment, a different time within my life over the past few years,” she says.
She notes an overarching theme across the EP’s track list, though it wasn’t intentional. “It just kind of happened,” she says.
“It all does kind of tie in lyrically, without me even really trying to do that. And I couldn’t have tried to do that because most of them were written before ‘Find Your Love,’ way before it,” she says, adding that “Find Your Love” was written just months ago in Phoenix. “I write about what I feel and what I’m going through, so I guess that’s kind of how that happened, actually.”
Fenimore recently debuted a solo rendition of the single live at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Then she added a friend into the mix for a live performance at Hotel Café in Los Angeles. She’s still anticipating an eventual full band performance.
“I can’t wait to play it full band,” she says. “That’s what I cannot wait to do. I’ve gotten to play it a couple times, but it’s still fresh.”
Soon, Fenimore will open for the Nick Foster Band and Old Coast at Tempe Tavern. The show is set for Sunday, April 29.
“I’m excited about that. I am going to do a bit of a tour in the summer/fall. Just doing one-offs right now. That one on the 29th is going to be pretty fun,” she says. “It’s just kind of folky. So it’s going to be kind of like an Americana/folk show, which I’m really, really stoked about.”
Nick Foster Band w/Old Coast, Whitney Fenimore, Tempe Tavern, 1810 E. Apache Boulevard, Tempe, 480.794.1706, tempetavern.com, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 29, free.