Chris Whitley Rocks Weird On Terra Incognita

Cover art from new album, Terra Incognita.

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Chris Whitley has seen plenty of ups and downs

since he burst onto the scene with 1991's flat-out great Living with the

Law, but one thing he's never lacked is intensity, which he provides in

spades on his brand new album, Terra Incognita.

The 13-track album,

produced by the trio of Toby Wright (Alice in Chains), Mark Howard (Tragically

Hip) and Dougie Bowne (drummer for Iggy Pop, Lounge Lizards), is a step back

into the sunshine in relation to Whitley's gloomy, experimental last album, the

underrated Din of Ecstasy, but still has enough of that old Whitley

darkness and light to make it worth a serious listen, or twenty.

How dark?

Check this verse from the last track, "Alien":

"Everyone come out

"Got

shades for the shadows of doubt

"Get blinded, it's 'most too

clear

"Could get killed by beauty and fear

"Porcelain face on a steel

device

"Mind of glass in a mask of ice."

Aside from featuring Whitley's

inventive and nimble guitar work, which runs the gamut from folky to burnt-out

electric blues to flat-out landspeed rock, the album also boasts guest turns

from producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Luscious Jackson), who plays guitar alongside

Whitely and Pat Place (Bush Tetras) on the dreamy track "Weightless."

Producer Bowne plays drums on the whole album, while Whitley occasionally

handles the bass duties, with help from Steve Almaas (Suicide Commandos) and

Melvin Gibb (Rollins Band). There appear to be at least a half dozen classics

on this one, including the infectious "Automatic" and the banjo-driven murky

funk of "Still Point."