|Chris Whitley Studio Solo Albums ranked|
Massively underrated. A distinctive guitarist (sort of a guitar hero for those of us who aren't that into solos) and instinctual singer who put his own signature spin on Americana. Interesting lyricist too, although very hit or miss - oddly, even when he's a little off on that front, it still sort of works.
This isn't bad really, just covers albums are usually surplus to requirements. As is this one, although 'China Gate' is great.
Solid, but a little aimless, just not as many fully formed songs on here as it's going more for a groove. The electronic elements added to shake things up are ok, but not inspired.
War Crime Blues
A stark acoustic protest record. It's really good but perhaps not as many flashes of brilliance to set the songs apart from each other.
Din of Ecstasy
The difficult sophomore album filled with serpentine, winding riffs and a more hard rock edge which may have alienated his roots audience. It's really good, but sometimes can feel a little too consistent in tone.
Interesting acoustic reworking of older material. Since it's curated, most of the picks are already great songs. However, the stripped down versions rarely outdo the originals. Still, it's a great listen and it's an excellent option for anyone who might have not liked the original production choices.
A bizarre attempt at a more commercial record after 'Din' didn't do so well. Bizarre in that it probably still had some tracks that probably weren't going to connect with a wide audience. 'Power down' and 'Cool Wooden Crosses' are amazing. 'Automatic' is endearing, maybe because of one of the worst lines I've ever heard in a song, so bad it's kind of good.
Soft Dangerous Shores
Smatterings of found sound samples pepper some of these songs, which seem a natural progression from Hotel Vast Horizon's sound. The album contains one of his finest songs; the cryptic, haunted Medicine Wheel. An undercurrent of muted war percussion eventually gets a layer of demonic marching song as heard through a patchy AM radio turned low, while Chris floats over it, adding his ragged acoustic flourishes.
Living With the Law
The debut is just an incredible Americana record. Expansive on 'Big Sky Country', beautiful chord changes on 'Living with the law', and the spare epic 'Dust radio' builds slowly to a squall over a monumental riff. Sadly, he was unable to capitalize on the buzz.
Hotel Vast Horizon
This has a dense enveloping sound; it's warm and mysterious at the same time. The cover almost looks like the album feels, wide open spaces but you're pulling your coat closer to your body to ward off winter. The title track is a masterpiece. 'Insurrection at Newtown' is frantic yet wound tight. And 'New Lost World' is the perfect opener.
A beautiful, timeless acoustic record which would set the tone for the second half of his solo career, in which the albums became more stark and focused. Recorded in a day, there's an unworked magic about it. 'Accordingly' is one of my favourite songs of all time.