The News & Observer
Raleigh, NC
Sunday, May 3, 1998

Simple Interest: by David Menconi
* * * 1/2


At the far end of the spectrum from the Propellarheads' hopped-up
studio trickery is Chris Whitley's beyond-stark "Dirt Floor"
(Messenger Records).  You wouldn't think it possible to do anything
too startling with just voice, acoustic guitar and 12 bar blues in 1998.
But darned if Whitley doesn't manage it here.

Whitley's previous three albums were all lavishly produced affairs, solid 
yet also somewhat overdone.  By contrast, "Dirt Floor" was recorded in a 
single day on one microphone, reportedly in a barn in Vermont.  It sounds 
as if producer Craig Street turned on the tape machine and then cut it off 
27 minutes later.

The nine songs that come in between are pretty amazing.  Whitley sings his
stream-of-consciousness lyrics in a clear, unadored voice and makes his guitar
do marvelously evocative things.  From the first note, "Dirt Floor" rings 
perfectly true.  There is nothing too fancy about this, except that it sounds
so right.

Recommended to anybody who takes pin-up poseurs like Jonny Lang seriously.