Joan L. from EAST HAMPTON, CT Reviewed on 8/19/2006...
Nice CD, poor guy just died.
LIVING WITH THE LAW
S. Finefrock | Raleigh, NC | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was shocked to see that Chris Whitley had passed away last week from a bout with lung cancer. Whitley's career had long been an interesting journey that produced a wide range of rivetting music. LIVING WITH THE LAW was the stellar start to that journey.
I remember picking this record up some fouteen years ago and being blown away. This did not sound like a debut record. Whitley's tales of trials, tribulations and blues had a more authentic ring than your usual white bluesman. I think that the key to Whitley's success was that he did not merely try to copy the blues, but use it as a springboard to investigate his own ideas. Malcom Burns's ( a Daniel Lanois protoge) production sounds more like a windswept U2 outing than a Delta Blues recording. I think that was the genius of this record. It was of th past, the present and it loked into the future.
This was a record without a weak track. Even throwaway tracks like I FORGET YOU EVERYDAY or LOOK WHAT LOVE HAS DONE resonate after just couple of listens. Several songs are nothing less than immediate classics, including the title track, BIG SKY COUNTRY, POISON GIRL and PHONECALL FROM LEAVENWORTH.
After LWTL, Whitley set out on a career that jumped from genre to genre with mixed results. From DIN OF ECSTASY's metallic grunge to DIRT FLOOR's stark acoustic blues to ROCKET HOUSE's electronic treatments, Whitley was a restless artist who folowed his own muse. To someone who wants to explore his wrk I would recommend that they start with this release, then move on to his excellent compilation LONG WAY AROUND. From there if you like what you hear al of his work is worth exploring. It's an unfortunate cliche, but although the artist will be tragically missed, we are lucky to have his work to enjoy into the future."
New Orleans Masterpiece
Pieter | Johannesburg | 11/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This impressive album of bluesy rock was one of the best debuts of 1991. The instrumental mix of guitars, pedal steel, tambourine, keyboards, harmonica and viola lends the album a distinctively atmospheric southern sound. Whitley's voice and the quality of the songs make it unforgettable.
The title track and Big Sky Country are gripping ballads whilst the uptempo Kick The Stones is a powerful mix of rock and country, flavoured by harmonica. The beautiful guitars stand out on the slow, emotive Make The Dirt Stick, whilst Daniel Lanois contributes guitar to the soulful Poison Girl with its hypnotic melody, churning viola and flowing vocals.
The sound hardens on Dust Radio as the guitars build up to a rousing crescendo, followed by short-wave voices and what sounds like a snatch of 1930s bluegrass. The acoustic guitar really shines on the passionate and intense Phone Call From Leavenworth, whilst Whitley's voice turns smoky on the gentle I Forget You Every Day, another track where the guitars slowly build momentum towards the end.
The eerie Long Way Around has an impressive arrangement and vocal/instrumental interplay, Look What Love Has Done is a simple but engaging dialogue between Whitley's expressive voice and the guitars, and Bordertown is a brilliant piece of blues-rock. The album is wrapped in a distinctive New Orleans style, within which there is much variety. The songs are sublime, the sound is superb - Living With The Law is a lost masterpiece. "
Matthew Parks | DURHAM, NC USA | 04/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chris Whitley's LIVING WITH THE LAW is a throwback to old-style Texas blues, heavy with finger-picked slide guitar on a National steel acoustic. Producer Malcolm Burn, a long time associate of musician/producer Daniel Lanois (the album was recorded at Lanois's New Orleans mansion), brings to the album a Lanois-style sound, with a rich, ambient sound backing Whitley's desperate-sounding vocals and multi-layered guitars. Whitley's first album was also his best effort to date as a songwriter, delivering a set of songs that while mostly dark and creepy, shimmer with emotion and crackle with energy and sincerity. This is an album that sounds very fresh and modern. Yet at the same time, it's not hard to imagine Whitley travelling back in time and recording this album in the same studio the Robert Johnson recorded in, without the songs losing anything at all in the process."
Brilliance Of Chris Whitley At His Best
Peter Fenn | Cleveland, OH USA | 11/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album showcases one of our time's most underappreciated musicians at his absolute best. For a long time it seemed Chris struggled to replicate the greatness he found on this first album. Throughout his career he managed to create some amazing albums, but this is easily the best. Every song is a musical triumph in itself. Without a doubt, this is a must-own. It's only sad that some of us are only beginning to realize what this man truly meant to the music world after he has gone. He will be missed..."
"Living with the Law is Chris Whitley's best album--an amalgam of blues, country, and garage band rock, with some of the best lyrics I have ever heard. I've owned this album for over ten years, but still listen to it frequently. I bought it for "Living with the Law" and "Big Sky Country", but I think the unusual "Dust Radio" is my favorite song. There is simply no filler on this album. Every song is though out, carefully crafted (yet still raw), and well done. If you're a fan of Steve Earle or Johnny Cash's "American Recording" series, give this one a try. You won't be disappointed."