CMJ Music Magazine
BEST NEW MUSIC Chris Whitley "Dirt Floor" (Messenger Records)

Chris Whitley has offered teasers of his solo acoustic sound
throughout his carrer; Dirt Floor, though, is his first full-
fledged solo acoustic release. Recorded quickly on a two-track
in Whitley's father's Vermont barn, Dirt Floor leaves the 
spaces in the songs that his much-loved debut album washed over.
You can almost hear the fire crackling and the wind blowing as 
Whitley stomps his boot and plays his banjo or trademark National
Steel guitar, andyou can see the barn he's sitting in: Images of
broken-down engine parts, tools and machinery chase the demons 
of love, sex and God that populate his songs. Most tracks, such 
as the pulsating "Scrapyard Lullaby" and meditative"Accordingly"
use circular single line patterns and avoid the power chords 
Whitley's recently favored. The songs buzz and drone, all tension
and no release, and as such the brief half-hour is completely 
fulfilling; it's long enough to dwell with the spirits that Dirt 
Floor conjures. Whitley's no blues neo-traditionalist, his songs
avoid cliche at every turn, and their mysteries untangle slowly. 
Similar to, say, PJ Harvey, Chris Whitley contorts the blues 
tradition into something completely personal and contemporary; 
it's a darkly rilliant feat. -Steve Klinge