Chris Whitley emerged as a haunting, post-modern bluesman with 1991's Living With the Law.
Chris Whitley emerged as a haunting, post-modern bluesman with 1991's Living With the Law. His next move was the image-shattering sonic barrage of 1995's Din of Ecstasy and 1997's Terra Incognita. Since then, he's left Columbia, gone indie, and is now plying his trade acoustically (as on the stripped-down Dirt Floor), as well as surveying his blues and rock influences (the covers set Perfect Day). Now, he's found the tools to indulge both his organic influences and his rebellious streak in an imaginative, alluring way. With help from DJ Logic and others, Whitley turns in a record of his individualist blues that swirls and swooshes with electronic processing. Yet the sounds are supported by solid songs that are as close to pop as he's ever come. The spliced loops, jagged rhythms, and vocals that swoop from dusky to falsetto make for an intoxicating brew. In this age of post-everything experimentation, these electronic abstractions could seem contrived—fortunately, they never do. Rocket House shows once again that Whitley is that rare artist who manages to meet his fans halfway while breaking free of any expectations.—SA