Picks and Pans Review: Dirt Floor

updated 04/13/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/13/1998 01:00AM

Chris Whitley

Recorded on a two-track tape machine set up in the barn of his father's Vermont farm, with Whitley accompanying himself on a National steel guitar and banjo, Dirt Floor is as musically raw and basic as the title implies. With nine of Whitley's unadorned country blues and ballads, it is certainly a startling departure from the loud, sharp-edged electric guitar bursts on his 1995 release Din of Ecstasy, which had him veering toward heavy metalville. By powering down, Whitley has tapped into some deep emotional reserves; in his voice and in his guitar playing are ghostly echoes both of black southern blues and ancient Celtic hill music. Logging less than 30 minutes playing time, the only flaw in Dirt Floor is its brevity. (Messenger)

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