Picks and Pans Review: Terra Incognita
Although this is actually Whitley's third album, Terra Incognita sounds like an excellent, logical follow-up to Living with the Law, his stunning debut. It has been a long wait. Back in 1991, Whitley was heralded as a major artist, a young and gifted blues interpreter investing timeless sounds with modern direction. Then he disappeared for four years, returning with Din of Ecstasy, a harrowing, claustrophobic album driven by layers of detuned, clanging electric guitars; it left most fans scratching their heads.
Now, on Terra Incognita, Whitley comes up for air. His lyrical themes remain existentially heavy, covering alienation, addiction and powerlessness, but the music regains some breathing room and buoyancy, a highly original mix of blues, funk, groove-rock and folk. Whitley evokes U2 one minute and Delta great Son House the next, but the blues' emotional urgency remains at the heart of his muse. And he once again sounds like an artist with both a firm grip on the past and a clear vision of the future. Let's just hope we don't have to wait six years for the next act. (Work)