Dave DiMartino
September 27, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Living With the Law

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Chris Whitley
genre
Rock, Blues

We gave it an B+

Dubbed a ”new troubadour” by hook-hungry journalists, 30-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist Whitley would have trouble wandering around the woods playing this music by himself. As gorgeous a listen as Living With the Law may be, Malcolm Burn’s ethereal production and mix sometimes obscure Whitley’s very obvious talent for crafting heartfelt, believable blues songs and become the show itself. Little wonder: Burn recorded this album in a New Orleans studio, where he recently mixed similarly — a bit too similarly — atmospheric albums by the Neville Brothers and Bob Dylan. The overall effect is at times disarming, but mostly it’s distracting; Whitley would’ve been better off establishing his own musical persona. As it is, Whitley’s voice sounds like Leon Russell’s, his stinging guitar lead on ”Dust Radio” sounds like Neil Young’s, and his new album sounds like his producer got carried away. If there’s a major new artist in here, as some contend, why not give him a guitar and just let him play? B+

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