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.
Check this verse from the last track, "Alien":
"Everyone come out
shades for the shadows of doubt
"Get blinded, it's 'most too
"Could get killed by beauty and fear
"Porcelain face on a steel
"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."