Talent runs through some families, it is must be in their DNA or something. Dan Whitley is the great blues guitarist Chris Whitley's kid brother, played on all Chris's stuff, and Trixie Whitley, the about to break big blues singer, is his niece and in Dan's own right, a pretty damn good songwriter with a howl of a voice and a lot of emotional baggage he can unlock and bring forward.
But you wouldn't know it because he is stuck in the swamps of Jersey and won't come out.
I am a Facebook friend, but a good one, and I am in touch with Dan just about every day. Whitley has that old time passion for rock music, and could discuss it all day between changing his one year olds diapers!!! But how good is he? Pretty excellent if the acoustic guitar break on the overwhelmingly moving and awesome "Calling All Gods" is anything to go by. This is a soaring big time rock anthem but it isn't a self reflected glorifying song, at 8 minutes plus it takes its time to make its point.
Another song, "Genius Of The Light" is a country rock tribute to his brother, and it is a great song and a beautiful song -it is a Stones influenced by Gram Parsons type song, sad stuff but an excellent tribute to his brother.
But so what, if you can't hear it?
Here is Whitley's press release:
"Dan Whitley (songs, vocals, guitar, harmonica) is well traveled and rootless, having been born/lived in Texas, Connecticut, Vermont, Mexico, New York City (for a good part of his life), and now New Jersey and all points in between. Dan is known for his guitar, vocals, and songwriting as well as his powerful guitar work on three of the late great older brother Chris Whitley’s many releases.
Dan exudes a soulful style all his own. He is a passionate, high energy guitarist and singer/songwriter. He sings every word with a fierce intensity that complements his expressionistic vocals. An eclectic style which goes from blistering feedback guitar to coaxing beautiful, evocative and sensitive tones. -
Dan has developed a unique and explosive sound that has got to be experienced.
Dan has shared the stage with everyone from Willy Dixon, Vernon Ried, Charlie Sexton, Ray Wilie Hubbard, Alejandro Escovedo, Eric Johnson, Dug Pinnick, Rudy Sarzo, James McMurtry, Blues Traveler and many many more.
Stylistically sometimes bombastic blues rock alla Black Keys, White Stripes, North Mississippi Allstars with a bit of Hendrix thrown in. Always true and heartfelt, soulful.
"its what I'm about, getting the songs across and true artistic expression every single time I play with lots of improv to keep it fresh. I simply won't paint by numbers ….for me it's a deep soul exorcism thing, I admit it, I have issues."
So, Whitley is the real thing but so what? You are basically left with songs you can't hear by a guitarist who isn't playing. Dan claims to be readying a release but in 2012 there is nothing to wait for. Release and be damned I say, then get your band together and play around town.
Till then, take my word for it
Calling All Gods – Grade: A
Genius Of The Light: B+