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MP3 Chris Whitley - Hotel Vast Horizon

"Riveting and original, Whitley mines roots music not as an imitator but as a visionary who trades on archetypal symbols and classic riffs to fashion his own mythology. There have been noble precedents for Whitley''s efforts.

10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Folk Rock, FOLK: Modern Folk

Whitley was born a Texan and restless, moving on to New York, Mexico, Vermont, Belgium, and now Germany, where his new acoustic album, Hotel Vast Horizon, was recorded.

Chris signed his first major deal with Columbia at age 31. This came after years of busking on the streets, being in different bands, and a chance meeting with producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan).

His following debut record Living With the Law was soon released to popular and critical success. Rolling Stone praised the artist "as a visionary, a bonafide poetÅ ." The New York Times raved that Whitley used "the dark secret of the blues in a modern context." What followed was a world tour including support for Tom Petty.

In 1995 Chris Whitley released Din of Ecstasy revealing his creative need to evolve, challenging some listeners in the process. Whitley did not employ blues as a tradition but as a visceral and visual sensibility. One year later he released Terra Incognita. Its mixture of ballads and a lyrical range made Whitley stand out again. Then, a cooperation with producer Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, K.D. Lang) led in 1998 to the release of the intimate Dirt Floor (Messenger Records). Bruce Springsteen chose this record as one of his favorites of the year. Chris played over 300 shows worldwide in support of Dirt Floor, three of which where recorded for the record Live At Martyrs'' (Messenger Records).

In the following year Whitley released the jazzy Perfect Day. For the realization of this collection of covers, Chris worked together with Billy Martin and Chris Wood from the fusion trio Mededski, Martin and Wood. Again, there was praise from the New York Times, who called this record "an amazing exercise in quiet intensity."

A year later, Whitley released his seventh album Rocket House, produced and co-written by Tony Mangurian (Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson). The album, in its use of new electronic influences, stands as another new definition in Whitley''s musical scope.

Hotel Vast Horizon is Chris'' first acoustic album of original music recorded with a band. Matthias Macht (drums/percussion), Heiko Schramm (bass), and Whitley (dobro/banjo/vocals) performed this stunning collection of mature and inspired compositions. Chris has once-again made a career-defining record.

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