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Whitley Checks in New “Hotel”

Seventh studio album due in April

Never one to get so snug with a style as to stick with it for two
consecutive albums, Chris Whitley has left the electronic
flourishes of 2001’s Rocket House behind and recorded with
a trio for Hotel Vast Horizon, his seventh studio album,
due on Messenger Records on April 15th.

The past five years have been productive for Whitley. Messenger
issued the particularly spare Dirt Floor in 1998 — which
featured just Whitley’s voice, guitar, occasional banjo and
stomping foot. The solo, acoustic — yet plenty raucous — concert
album Live at Martyrs was released two years later, in
2000, the same year he offered Perfect Day, a collection
of atmospheric covers of songs by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Lou
Reed and the Doors, backed by drummer Billy Martin and bassist
Chris Wood (of Medeski Martin and Wood). Those albums fell a year
before the one-album stint on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records that
resulted in Rocket House. Last year, Legacy issued the
career-spanning Long Way Around: An Anthology 1991-2001,
which collected songs from nearly all of Whitley’s albums and
paired them with several previously unreleased demos. And he also
found time to provide a soundtrack and score (along with German
musicians Warner Poland and Kai-Uwe Kohlschmidt) to the film

Pigs Will Fly.

Hotel Vast Horizon doesn’t quite sound like any of
Whitley’s previous albums. Recorded in his current home of Dresden,
Germany, with bassist Heiko Schramm and Matthias Macht, it
spotlights the singer-songwriter’s quieter side, similar to
Dirt Floor, but with a richer, busier musical
backdrop.

“The instrumentation is pretty acoustic, though it’s a little
close to Rocket House,” Whitley said. “A lot of the songs
sound very quiet. I feel like some people are attracted to the
atmospheric sense of my music, no matter how the whole record
sounds.”

Whitley, Schramm and Macht are also working on a soundtrack for
an independent German film, though there is no word yet if the
music will result in an album.

The track listing for Hotel Vast Horizon:

New Lost World
Breaking Your Fall
Frontier
Hotel Vast Horizon
Blues for Andre
Assassin Song
Wide Open Return
Silhouette
Insurrection at Newtown
Free Interval

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