Chris Whitley / Jeff Lang: Dislocation Blues

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Whitley / Jeff Lang: Dislocation Blues Dislocation Blues is the work of kindred spirits in a sustained moment of inspiration. Recorded in April of 2005, months before guitarist/vocalist Chris Whitley's death from cancer, the album finds the late Texan united with his Australian cohort, guitarist Jeff Lang, as they confront their emotions and, by the alchemy that is music, transform that interaction into poetry instrumental and verbal.

Whitley and Lang achieve this transmogrification with a mix of originals, traditional songs and, not surprisingly, two songs of Bob Dylan's. "When I Paint My Masterpiece is a jaunty romp that nevertheless betrays a certain nagging uncertainty through its mix of electric and acoustic guitars combined with the halting gait in the rhythm. "Changing of the Guard finds Whitley and Lang trading verses of the Bard's apocalyptic vision, the fluidity of their tradeoffs making it all the more regrettable the world will never get to see the two perform together live (though the two did do some selected dates together in 2004, early in their collaboration).

Thankfully Dislocation Blues fully documents their chemistry as they interact with the deferential rhythm section of bassist Grant Cummerford and drummer Ashley Davies. Whitley and Lang, who produced the album and ensured its release in the United States, refuse to prettify their music but therein lies the very foundation of its beauty. The pair conjures an air of menace through the deliberate pace they apply to the traditional tune "Stagger Lee, Whitley's falsetto vocal and the electric slide guitar winding around the changes like a shadow of a stalker. The title song is a mesmerizing travel through time, revealing Whitley's beat poet roots as means of commentary on our post-9/11 world.

Lang plays the role of younger brother to Whitley here, a figure with less experience and thus more unabashed hope. His voice is less parched and his guitar playing brighter on "The Road Leads Down and "Ravenswood. Twelve Thousand Miles is an original blues by Lang, where he demonstrates how he exorcises his personal demons as much by playing as composing. Whitley's previously recorded "Rocket House is shorn of its previously-recorded production accouterments and enlivened as an acoustic dreamscape that's no less evocative.

What might seem an odd choice here is the inclusion of Prince's "Forever in My Life. Yet Whitley and Lang take this somewhat overstated expression of devotion and turn it into an ode to primal desire. Like the almost hidden track "Hellhound on My Trail, performed by Whitley alone, it becomes a personal statement that haunts long after the performance is over.

The same can be said about Dislocation Blues in its entirety.

Visit Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang on the web.

Track Listing: Stagger Lee; Twelve Thousand Miles; When I Paint My Masterpiece; Rocket House; The Road Leads Down; Dislocation Blues; Forever in My Life; Velocity Girl; Ravenswood; Underground; Changing of the Guard; Motion Bride; Hellhound on My Trail.

Personnel: Chris Whitley: vocals, National guitar, bottleneck guitar, foot; Jeff Lange: amplified acoustic lap steel, National guitar, acoustic lap slide, acoustic guitar, loops, samples, electric guitar, fretless electric guitar, fretless banjo, bass pedals; Grant Cummerford: acoustic bass, electric bass, bowed bass: Ashley Davies: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Rounder Records | Style: Blues

comments powered by Disqus


More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Serenity Knolls" CD/LP/Track Review Serenity Knolls
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Troy Collins
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Celebrating Elvin Jones" CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating Elvin Jones
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Pole Of Inaccessibility" CD/LP/Track Review Pole Of Inaccessibility
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "East West Time Line" CD/LP/Track Review East West Time Line
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 10, 2017

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!