Jeff Lang


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Dislocation Blues
Year of Release: 2006  
Cat. Number: - Release Status: Available
Track Listing:
  1. Stagger Lee
  2. Twelve Thousand Miles
  3. When I Paint My Masterpiece
  4. Rocket House
  5. The Road Leads Down
  6. Dislocation Blues
  7. Forever in My Life
  8. Velocity Girl
  9. Ravenswood
  10. Underground
  11. Changing of the Guard
  12. Motion Bride
You Have To Dig Deep To Bury Daddy

Listen: Dislocation Blues Podcast

In this podcast Jeff Lang talks about the story behind, and recording "Dislocation Blues". Jeff's stories and anecdotes are interspersed with songs recorded at a concerts he and Chris performed. Tracks featured during the podcast include live recordings of Chris and Jeff playing "Stagger Lee", "Dirt Floor", "She's Alright" and more plus an alternate studio version of "Motion Bride". The podcast is available in two versions;

Low Quality - [46kbps mp3 11.8MB]
Medium Quality - [128kbps mp3 31.3MB]

Look: Photos of Jeff and Chris
Tunings: Not Available


Producer Jeff Lang
Mixed by Jeff Lang and Mick Wordley

Studio Adelphia Studios Melbourne, Victoria

Mastered by Tony Mantz at Deluxe Mastering. 


  1. Stagger Lee (Trad. arr. Lang/Whitley)
  2. Twelve Thousand Miles (Lang)
  3. When I Paint My Masterpiece (Dylan)
  4. Rocket House (Whitley)
  5. The Road Leads Down (Lang)
  6. Dislocation Blues (Whitley)
  7. Forever in My Life (Nelson)
  8. Velocity Girl (Whitley)
  9. Ravenswood (Lang)
  10. Underground (Lang/Whitley/Cummerford/Davies)
  11. Changing of the Guard (Dylan)
  12. Motion Bride (Whitley/Lang)



Doug Collette- All About Jazz

Dislocation Blues is the work of kindred spirits in a sustained moment of inspiration. Recorded in April of 2005, months before guitarist/vocalist Chris Whitley's death from cancer, the album finds the late Texan united with his Australian cohort, guitarist Jeff Lang, as they confront their emotions and, by the alchemy that is music, transform that interaction into poetry instrumental and verbal.

Whitley and Lang achieve this transmogrification with a mix of originals, traditional songs and, not surprisingly, two songs of Bob Dylan's. "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is a jaunty romp that nevertheless betrays a certain nagging uncertainty through its mix of electric and acoustic guitars combined with the halting gait in the rhythm. "Changing of the Guard" finds Whitley and Lang trading verses of the Bard's apocalyptic vision, the fluidity of their tradeoffs making it all the more regrettable the world will never get to see the two perform together live (though the two did do some selected dates together in 2004, early in their collaboration).

Thankfully Dislocation Blues fully documents their chemistry as they interact with the deferential rhythm section of bassist Grant Cummerford and drummer Ashley Davies. Whitley and Lang, who produced the album and ensured its release in the United States, refuse to prettify their music but therein lies the very foundation of its beauty. The pair conjures an air of menace through the deliberate pace they apply to the traditional tune "Stagger Lee," Whitley's falsetto vocal and the electric slide guitar winding around the changes like a shadow of a stalker. The title song is a mesmerizing travel through time, revealing Whitley's beat poet roots as means of commentary on our post-9/11 world.

Lang plays the role of younger brother to Whitley here, a figure with less experience and thus more unabashed hope. His voice is less parched and his guitar playing brighter on "The Road Leads Down" and "Ravenswood." Twelve Thousand Miles" is an original blues by Lang, where he demonstrates how he exorcises his personal demons as much by playing as composing.

Whitley's previously recorded "Rocket House" is shorn of its previously-recorded production accouterments and enlivened as an acoustic dreamscape that's no less evocative.

What might seem an odd choice here is the inclusion of Prince's "Forever in My Life." Yet Whitley and Lang take this somewhat overstated expression of devotion and turn it into an ode to primal desire. Like the almost hidden track "Hellhound on My Trail," performed by Whitley alone (sic), it becomes a personal statement that haunts long after the performance is over.

The same can be said about Dislocation Blues in its entirety.

Courier Mail, Brisbane, Noel Mengel, Reviewer, August 31, 2006

Jeff Lang remembers exactly where and when he met Chris Whitley, the American blue-roots songwriter. In Sydney 12 years ago, someone said to him: "You should go and see Chris Whitley tonight. You'd like him." Lang, then a young songwriter on the point of recording his debut album, hadn't heard of Whitley but went along to catch him at the Basement and was stunned by what he heard.

The next night, Lang was playing the graveyard shift into the morning at a club in Kings Cross. Between sets, someone came up and said, "There's someone here who wants to meet you." It was Whitley, who had been quietly watching. They hit it off instantly and the next night Lang joined Whitley on stage. They remained friends, kept in touch whenever their paths crossed, out on the road in the US or Australia, right up until Whitley's death from lung cancer last November, only weeks after being diagnosed.

"What I saw on that Tuesday at the Basement took my breath away," Lang says. "He had such a particular vision and his music was so much his own thing. My music was taking shape at that time but he was much further down that road, the way he understood the language of the blues and incorporated it into something that was singular rather than recycling."

It's not surprising they had so much common ground, since they both shared a love of blues, a love of Bob Dylan, both played a mean slide guitar and both were single-minded musical adventurers with a deep understanding of musical history yet not content merely to re-create past glories. Whitley had asked Lang to play on his albums but Jeff had never managed to make it to a session.

Then Whitley suggested they make an album together, and soon he was in Melbourne recording the album that became Dislocation Blues.

It's a brilliant record, made in just three days last year, sometimes with the rhythm section of Grant Cummerford and Ashley Davies, sometimes just the two of them.

Some of the songs go way back, like the traditional Stagger Lee. And Motion Bride was written by Lang and Whitley sitting in the courtyard outside the studio and recorded 20 minutes after it was finished. There are two Dylan covers, When I Paint My Masterpiece and Changing of the Guard, and the latter especially is one of those extraordinary performances that captures two musicians in complete understanding. "It was Chris's suggestion and it was one of the songs I heard when my dad was picking up all the Dylan records in the '70s.

"When you talk about assimilation, Dylan assimilated the folk influence and all its acknowledgement of death. It's there in this song," Lang says. "When Chris died I didn't deal with the record for a few months and when I came back to it that song really got to me because it has that bleak kind of acknowledgement of mortality imbued in it." My bet: if you've ever dug down deep into the roots of popular music, into the blues or Dylan, it will get to you, too. "There's an intangible camaraderie you feel with certain people," Lang says. "There's always a struggle with being an artist and staying true to yourself, but come hell or high water, Chris was going to do his own thing and remain true to his vision. And I feel flattered, honoured, that he saw me taking part in that."

Thom Jurek - All Music Guide

Recorded in April of 2005, seven months before Chris Whitley's death from lung cancer, Dislocation Blues is a fine, perhaps even glorious, epitaph. Aussie blues guitarist Jeff Lang and Whitley, friends since the mid-'90s, hooked up as part of an Australian tour and took a couple of weeks to record these 14 songs (the final two, Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail" and Whitley's "Kick the Stones," are uncredited) with the rhythm section of Grant Cummerford and Ashley Davies. This collection of traditional blues tunes such as "Stagger Lee," covers of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and "Changing of the Guard," and originals from the catalogs of both men is an intimate, loose, deeply intuitive, and complementary set. Whitley plays his trademark National Steel for a good portion of this (all but one cut, actually), while Lang plays National, amplified lap steel, and electric and acoustic guitars, while the rhythm section - using a trap kit and upright and bowed bass - burrows deep into the spaces these songs inhabit.

Whitley's tunes such as "Velocity Girl," "Rocket House," and "Dislocation Blues" resonate more truthfully in this environment - much as they did in his last few years playing live - than they did on his earlier studio recordings.

There is an aesthetic here, one that treats everything, whether it's Lang's beautiful ballad "Ravenswood" or Whitley's "Motion Bride," as blues. The latter features Lang on a fretless banjo à la Dock Boggs. Even "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is radically reinterpreted here - much as Dylan might do himself on-stage on any given night - and drenched in that sleepy narcotic cough-syrup blues played by latter-day Mississippi Delta dwellers such as Junior Kimbrough and David Malone. This is country music, taken from the extremes of Whitley's native Texas and Lang's wild and woolly Australia. "Changing of the Guard" is a different song entirely - slow, purposeful, almost a hymn of a country gospel tune.

If Dylan cares, he's gotta be proud about turning this barn-burning apocalyptic surreal poem into a forbidding love song. The two uncredited tunes show up in one selection, and the pair brilliantly morph "Hellhound" into the Whitley tune, taking it out on an eerie whisper, full of darkness and shadow - much like death. This one is for the Whitley fans who dug War Crime Blues or Soft Dangerous Shores. Lang, of all the people Whitley played and recorded with, proved to be the most symbiotic of all.

This is a collaboration in every sense of the word, but Whitley's silent but towering figure looms large. One can only hope that, at least posthumously, Whitley will get his due as a great American songwriter, storyteller, and bluesman - not to mention an original guitarist. First printed in Sep/Oct 2006

The Buffalo News

Chris Whitley's swan song

Chris Whitley recorded two albums in the months prior to his death last year, and both are worth having. "Reiter In" is a big, beautiful mess of a rock record, and finds Whitley and some of his pals from the band Johnny Society, along with German bassist Heiko Schramm, tackling some acid blues and garage-punk, including a torrid take on the Stooges' " I Wanna Be Your Dog."

"Dislocation Blues," just out, is a collaboration between Whitley and roots musician/songwriter/singer Jeff Lang, and it trumps "Reiter In" as a last word from the sorely missed Whitley.

Throughout, Lang offers transcendent counterpoint to Whitley's angel-flying-too-close-to-the-ground falsetto and twisted National Steel guitar virtuosity. This stuff sounds like 22nd century blues, and though all of it is outstanding, a pair of interpretations of Dylan tunes - a swanky "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and a wonderfully surreal "Changing of the Guard - rank among Whitley's finest recorded moments. First printed March 27, 2007

Olivia Flores Alvarez - Houston Press

Of the group reviewed here, this CD is the most stripped down musically, sounding bare at times, depending on lap steel guitars or a fretless electric guitar for the melody, an upright bass for the beat. This also tugs at the traditional blues format the most. While Houston-born Chris Whitley's voice is as worn and aching and his resonator guitar as sorrowful as they should be, he sometimes approaches an ambient structure (that is, almost structureless). No surprise there; Whitley was supposedly an avid John Coltrane fan.

So is Dislocation Blues really just jazz with a heavy blues sensibility? No, Whitley and Lang tug and pull at the blues format, but they never leave it completely. For example, Whitley's "Rocket House" has ambient music under prophetic blues vocals:

"I've been living in the rocket house
Empty buildings go flying by
I got trapped above the atmosphere
Got no time to say goodbye."

Lang and Whitley recorded Dislocation Blues (which was almost called Road Dog Shall Inherit the Earth) in 2005, just months before Whitley found out he had lung cancer. Seven months after finishing the CD, Whitley was dead. Indeed, no time to say goodbye. First printed May 3, 2007

Jeff Giles

Dislocation Blues is the second release to receive billing as Chris Whitley's final album since he succumbed to lung cancer in the fall of 2005; sadly, this time around, the designation would appear to be apt. Much as the late bluesman's fans (this writer included) would love for Whitley to continue rising from the grave, like Tupac with a National guitar, this set of recordings - committed to tape with Whitley's sometime touring partner, Australian roots musician Jeff Lang, months before Whitley's death - would seem to be the end of the line in terms of fully realized studio albums.

But what a way to go. As an artist, Whitley spent his career dragging a bootheel back and forth across the line in the dirt between traditional and modern, natural and synthetic, clatter and sigh; it was hard work, and for listeners who saw his recordings as destinations rather than steps on a journey, it was often confounding. For every stark, acoustic release (such as 1991's Living with the Law, or 1998's Dirt Floor), Whitley had a feedback-braced response (such as 1995's Din of Ecstasy). In keeping with this tradition, then, Dislocation Blues serves, loosely speaking, as a gentler companion piece to last year's thorny, squall-drenched Reiter In.

This is still Chris Whitley we're talking about, of course, so "gentler" is a relative term; his socket-eyed blues always had more in common with Lou Reed or Kraftwerk than, say, B.B. King - they were less a condition than a vengeful, literal presence. This is why it's only telling part of the story to say that Whitley and Lang cover "Stagger Lee," "When I Paint My Masterpiece," and Prince's "Forever in My Life" on this set; anyone who grew up with Professor Longhair's version of "Stagger Lee," for instance, will be hard-pressed to identify it here. Whitley and Lang take the popular piano boogie, flay it alive, and leave its skin twitching in the breeze, exposing it for the awful, bloody revenge tale it's always been.

This sort of dismantling and reduction sets the tone for all of Dislocation Blues; Whitley and Lang strip covers, old originals, and new collaborations down to their most essential bits, run them through a rusty old blender, and repeat. It's intoxicating, and Lang deserves much of the credit for this. On his own, Whitley was apt to spend a lot of time doodling in the margins of melody and song structure; here, however, Lang acts as a tether and a foil, providing Whitley with a response to his ghostly call. Guitar fans - particularly those of the National and lap variety - will find a feast worth savoring here.

Bassist Grant Cummerford and drummer Ashley Davies deserve special notice - they provide Whitley and Lang with a perfectly supple, earthy anchor, and Lang's production is appropriately filthy. Whitley's death remains a profound and untimely loss, but if we must have an epitaph, Dislocation Blues is as good as any. First printed in Sep/Oct 2006

Ted Drozdowski -

Chris Whitley, so pale and thin it seemed he was compelled to lean under the weight of his resonator guitars, was a spectral figure in life. In death the ghostly qualities of his voice in the old blues murder story "Stagger Lee" and the alienated title track of this album ring even stranger and more poignant. The latter in particular, since Whitley's in top form, unreeling expressionistic poetry about heresy and disenfranchisement. He had a knack for weaving beauty and horror, and his playing was at its peak when he paired with Australian blues-pop hero Jeff Lang in 2005 for this disc that's just now being released in the US.

Both musicians are skilled roots-inclined songwriters and guitarists with a bent for slide dexterity. The difference is that Lang seems healthier and better adjusted, right down to his robust guitar tone and choices of more familiar imagery, like open country and travel, even as he's singing about the highway to Hell ("The Road Leads Down"). Lang's vocal melodies are soaring; Whitley's are half-whispered contemplations. But their blend of open-heartedness and mystery works splendidly as their guitars chime and twine. The most arresting number is the spectral New Orleans tale "Velocity Girl," which finds them weaving a bed of guitar textures from Indian influences and atonalities around Whitley's haunted call. First printed April 23, 2007

David Fricke - Rolling Stone

In April 2005, Texas-born haunted-blues singer-songwriter and slide guitarist Chris Whitley made an album in Australia with local singer-guitarist Jeff Lang: Dislocation Blues (Rounder), first issued there last year and now available domestically.

Eight months after those sessions, Whitley was dead at forty-five of lung cancer.

At the time of this recording, Whitley, who had previously done battle with drugs and desperation and won, did not know he was fatally ill. In fact, Whitley’s low-to-the-ground growl and the bittersweet whine of his National steel guitar resonate with the hardened wisdom and fighting optimism of a man who lived the blues too well but also lived to tell about it. "Where can the heretic call home?" Whitley asks with blunt exhaustion in his title song, then answers the question with stark, moving gratitude in a Delta-funk spin on Prince’s "Forever in My Life." Lang sings and tangles on slide with Whitley like a blood relative, but this record is Whitley's triumph - a gritty lesson in how to make the most of each day and breath you have left.

Andrew Iliff - Stylus Magazine

Dislocation Blues leaves the sound of Chris Whitley's voice imprinted in the mind. Whitley has always sounded haunted and haunting in equal measure, but his aspirant, resonant rasp has never been more eerie or otherworldly—and for good reason. Dislocation Blues was recorded by Whitley and Australian Jeff Lang in April 2005, two months before he recorded Reiter In with the Bastard Club and six months before his death from lung cancer.

As on Reiter, Whitley is forced to curtail his vocal phrasing, but he paints with the new reluctant, whispery texture of his voice as instinctively as he patterns his singing on the slippery, provisional licks of his national guitar. But where Reiter bore Whitley's wounded voice on a litter of droning guitars, screening the man in curtains of reverb and spoken-word arrangements, Dislocation Blues is a bare bones partnership between the student Lang and the master. There are only a few new Whitley compositions here and Lang takes lead vocals on several tracks. But when Whitley comes to the fore, his voice is limned in the naked light of mortality.

But if Reiter wasn't Whitley's The Wind, Dislocation isn't quite either; Whitley apparently wanted to call the album "Road Dogs Rule the Earth." If Whitley considered the gallows-humor irony of covering "When I Paint My Masterpiece," it was only to give the song its sardonic due. Strutting and scornful, "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is the equal of Whitley's two superb, poised Dylan covers on Perfect Day, but "Masterpiece" is the first time Whitley has borrowed Dylan's 60s sneer, and it suits him surprisingly well. Almost as successful is the somber, funereal "Changing of the Guard," marred only by Lang's clumsy insistence, in the final verse, on the word "death." Whitley, singing in a delicate, exhausted whisper, stumbles straight past.

Lang, who produced the album, is an able singer and better slide guitarist. His compositions cannot match the shamanic immediacy of Whitley's best work, but his sweet reedy harmonies brings out the vinegar in Whitley's take on "Masterpiece." Whitley needs no accompaniment; some of his best work features nothing more than voice, foot stomps and his urgent, mercurial guitar. Dislocation Blues two "secret" tracks, both recorded live, come closest to this stark ideal. On "Hellhound On My Trail," Lang trades limber falsetto verses and slide licks with Whitley's beautiful, burned-out gasp: "You sprinkle hotfoot powder all around my door / All around your daddy's door / Keeps me with ramblin' mind rider / Every old place I go."

In Lang, Whitley found a kindred spirit and partner for subdued, wistful renditions of "Velocity Girl" and "Rocket House." The latter, stripped of its original electronic bells and whistles, may be the definitive interpretation: Whitley sings softly and potently of regret and disorientation: "From counterpane to stratosphere all conclusions fade to black / Is there freedom from the hemisphere? Where there is no, no turning back."

Whitley's deep alienation has been at the core of his music since 1991's Living With the Law, and if time has taken its toll on his voice, it has done little to reconcile the man; if anything, Whitley's struggle has become more direct and more plaintive. The title track on Dislocation Blues is a defiant raga built on a riff played on a Turkish "chumbush," and anchored, if the liners are to be believed, by an upright bass and a beaten barbeque grill. The music circles back on itself repeatedly as Whitley, in the resonant, unbowed tones of a dying prophet, chants, "Where can a heretic, where can a heretic / Where can a heretic call home?" For the millenarian Whitley the quest is nothing new, but for his audience, everything has changed.

Toronto Star

Recorded in Australia in 2005, just months before cancer claimed American folk/blues legend Whitley, Dislocation Blues is a series of live sessions in which much of the material seems to have grown out of extended jams with a monster rhythm section, bassist Grant Cummerford and drummer Ashley Davies, who provide a hard and relentless edge to what might otherwise be passable country blues songs.

The format also allows the two guitarists to experiment wildly with distortion, harmonics and other trickery, and the effect is intense, electrifying at times. Top track: "When I Paint My Masterpiece," the Dylan epic wrought with dynamic angst.

Jarret Keene - Tucson Weekly Rhythm & Views

Pairing the late avant-bluesman Chris Whitley (who died in late 2005) with the even more obscure Aussie roots guitarist Jeff Lang doesn't sound so necessary on paper. But on Dislocation Blues, the results make for what will surely be one of the best blues-music releases of 2007. Whitley injects enough weirdness into the material to balance Lang's traditional approach--and vice versa. Recorded two years ago in Melbourne, Dislocation Blues is a gritty affair that seemingly owes something to the Fat Possum school of gutbucket blues, except that these guys employ an intellectual approach.

With the deathless "Stagger Lee," a song that's about a bad motherfucker who guns down Billy in the Lion's Club, Whitley picks, plucks and scratches at his National guitar (essentially a Dobro); such rough flourishes allow Lang to weave his amplified lap steel licks. Following this haunted rendition of a blues standard is Lang's own "Twelve Thousand Miles," which barrels confidently along like an old muscle car down a lonely stretch of blacktop. Whitley's own "Rocket House," in which Lang, too, grabs a National, is another highlight, having been transformed into an interstellar blues stomp.

With the crack rhythm section of upright bassist Grant Cummerford and drummer Ashley Davies, Whitley and Lang are free to express whatever they want in these originals and covers (including two Bob Dylan tunes, "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and "Changing of the Guard"). None of it holds a candle to Whitley's searing 2006 swan song, Reiter In. But for a compelling introduction to two cult artists, Dislocation Blues is the best place to start.

T-Bourbon -

Jeff Lang is an Australian songwriter, singer, and virtuoso slide guitarist. He's a leading performer in the Australian roots style, which is heavily influenced by the folk music of the southern United States, but has a distinctly Australian lyrical content.

Chris Whitley, American singer/songwriter and guitarist, started his career as blues guitarist, evolved into rock and returned to the twilight zone of roots, blues and rock. Chris suffered from lung cancer for a long time, and died at his home in the end of 2005. Together with his friend Jeff Lang, Chris had started a very hard job, especially considering his bad health.

We hear a comprehensive, personal, and intimate album. Especially beautiful are the lovely ballad 'Ravenswood', sung by Jeff with Chris on guitar, and Chris Whitley's 'Motion Bride', with Jeff on fretless banjo. Both artists have covered two songs of Bob Dylan, ('When I Paint My Masterpiece' and 'Changing of the Guard').

The song 'Changing of the Guard' has become a mysterious, surreal song of forbidden love. 'Underground' is a dark song, with plugged, distorted guitar, and with moving lyrics like "Feels so helpless out here" or "Don't wanna go back underground".

The CD cover shows twelve tracks, but when you look at the display of the CD player there are thirteen. 'Hellhound on my Trail' (Robert Johnson) is track thirteen and changes into Jeff Whitley's song 'Kick the Stones', recorded live in Sydney. Remember Chris Whitley as a great American singer/songwriter and storyteller, but particularly as a bluesman who died too soon.

Julian Piper, Guitarist Magazine, UK, June 2007

The enigmatic Chris Whitley was one of the most anarchic slide guitar players on the radar and this occasionally chilling album recorded six months before he passed in November 2005, stands as one of his finest hours.

Aided by his friend the antipodean slide wizard Jeff Lang, there's a rare raw beauty here. And from Whitley's bleak reading of "Stagger Lee" - where his National Steel sounds like it might slice the speakers - or on the spooky Rocket House, Lang's sultry lap steel licks, loops and samples unfailingly lay down an inspired sympathetic backdrop for Whitley's dark blues and eccentric tunings. A fine if challenging epitath.

Standout Tracks:

Rocket House
Stagger Lee
The Road Leads Down

Popmatters - 18 July 2007

"Where can a heretic call home?" Chris Whitley repeatedly intones that rhetorical question to open the title track of his and Jeff Lang's new album, Dislocation Blues. Whitley's distinctive, high resonating rasp is the perfect vehicle for this phrase: each strained repetition further solidifies the paradoxical mix of resolution and resignation. Of course, the now-deceased Whitley knew well that there was no enduring home for his unique brand of heretic, but his impressive catalogue attests to the fact that he was determined to make his mark on the world during his all-too-brief stay in it.

When the Texas bluesman succumbed to lung cancer in 2005 at the relatively tender age of 45, he left behind a solid legacy of blues/rock fusion. Whether playing in the ambient soundscapes of Daniel Lanois or a more elemental setting, Whitley's dry, wizened voice matched his equally unique style on his vintage National guitars to create a singular, immediately recognizable sound. Though it was undoubtedly not intended to serve as such, Dislocation Blues is a fitting conclusion to Whitley's recording career. The record documents a collaboration between the Texan and Australian blues/roots master Jeff Lang. Here, the two tackle a range of covers, standards, and originals in a variety of styles and formats. Sometimes the principals perform alone or as a duo, and at other times bassist Grant Cummerford and drummer Ashley Davies join in to flesh out the sound. The result is a varied record that is honest and accessible; in matching their abundant virtuosity with an impressive depth of feeling, Whitley and Lang manage to deliver a record that demonstrates their mastery of their instruments as surely as it does their appreciation for the humility at the core of the blues. All of these qualities are on display on the record's standout track, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Changing of the Guards" on which the two perform as a duo, trading the song's nine evocative verses in a delightfully natural and self-assured manner.

Whitley's dry vocals form a delightful contrast with Lang's sweeter turns and some sublime guitar picking provides an ideal backdrop for Dylan's poignant narrative. "Changing of the Guards" is not the only successful Dylan cover on this record. Whitley breathes new life into the considerably better-known composition "When I Paint My Masterpiece". The first verse of this rendition exemplifies Whitley's unique capabilities as a performer. The manner in which Whitley's voice massages words like "Rome" and "rubble" perfectly reflects the undercurrent of exasperation that runs throughout this apparently hopeful song. As Whitley knew all too well, one can always look to the promise of a brighter future even as a bleak present stretches on and on. Davies' rambunctious drum part further adds to this infectious spirit of restlessness. For his part, Lang distinguishes himself with sweet and self-assured harmony vocals on Whitley's tracks along with some solid originals. The contemplative "Ravenswood" provides an ideal space for some ornate guitar work and a somber narrative about the decline of a small rural community in the face of widespread emigration to the city. "The Road Leads Down" is a more propulsive track, but it feels no less natural and Lang's fleet-fingered guitar work provides one of the record's early highlights. In typical fashion, Lang's lyrics refer to blues originator Robert Johnson while the playing exemplifies the manner in which these artists consistently look to carve out innovative new territory within the genre. The only minor quibble with "The Road Leads Down" is the song's abrupt ending; it seems to fold over just as Lang is preparing to take off on another flight of dobro fancy. Any consternation is promptly dispelled, however, by the sublime "Dislocation Blues" in which Whitley lays his vivid lyrical abstractions over a crackling bed of National guitar and chumbush - a 12-string fretless banjo from Turkey - parts. Along with his masterful re-interpretations of other's compositions, visceral originals like "Dislocation Blues" are sure to form the heart of Chris Whitley's legacy.

Beyond the fact that it possibly represents Chris Whitley's last recording, Dislocation Blues is notable because it documents a fruitful collaboration between two masters of progressive blues music. Whitley and Lang contrast and complement each other in a natural and intuitive fashion, and that connection permits them to perform a range of material in an innovative, genre-melding fashion while retaining the elemental feel that is so essential to the blues. One might feel a twinge of sadness at Chris Whitley's passing at such a young age, but recordings such as this one will undoubtedly ensure that his influence within the blues genre remains strong for many years to come.

RATING: 8/10

Rick Allen, HARP Magazine, USA, June 2007

The late Chris Whitley brings country blues into the 21st century on this album, but it is still appropriate that Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail" is included as a sort of mission statement. Except for invoking the titular demi-legba in his reworking of "Stagger Lee", Whitley doesn't deal too specifically with demons and loas. But the preternatural is a basic element of rural blues and the air of it here is unmistakable.

Whitley's own compositions - he also covers two songs by Bob Dylan, no stranger to the ghosts of electricity himself - are so loosely structured as to seem like streams of consciousness. But on Dislocation Blues, with his convictive singing and National steel guitar, and abetted by Australian singer-songwriter Jeff Lang's masterful slide work (Lang also wrote or co-wrote 5 of the 12 songs), he makes it all work, ultimately inscribing an excellent postscript to a sadly truncated career.

James Calemine, Swampland Review, USA

Recorded in Sydney, Australia, eight months before the Texas guitarist Chris Whitley died of lung cancer at 45, Dislocation Blues marks Whitley's final studio album. These 13 spooky compositions - some of his best work - remain steeped in country blues.

Whitley and Lang met in 1993. They remained friends and played together through the years. In 2004, they performed shows together in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Australian Lang's National steel guitar playing ranks him among his country's finest. Lang serves as a complimentary six-string partner to Whitley, who usually handles all guitar duties while performing and recording.

Whitley and Lang re-worked the traditional song "Stagger Lee" in an eerie rendition that sounds like some backwater soundtrack to an obscure documentary on voodoo in the Louisiana bayou. Lang's lap steel and guttural playing shines in his song "Twelve Thousand Miles". The CD pays for itself just to hear the gritty country-blues version of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece". Whitley's command over vocal phrasing often goes overlooked due to his guitar skills and vivid lyrics that hypnotize the listener. Grant Cummerford (bass) and Ashley Davies (drums) serve as the solid rhythm section on these recordings. "Rocket House" complete with a Japanese intro on two simultaneous National guitars, plays out like some blue smoke opium-induced dream.

Dislocation Blues - like Whitley's two other classics Living With the Law and Dirt Floor - embodies one continual mood throughout every song threaded together by one fine silver line ... "Dislocation Blues" counts as a Whitley classic. His incandescent National steel playing on this one evokes ghosts at the crossroads ... a last fair deal gone down ... haunted souls. Then he sings:

"Where can the heretic call home?
Orphaned at the tether societies that wither
Vacancy of dislocation riding in the vapour
Sweet and sour nectar."

Whitley's lyrical alliteration always fits around his sharp melodic hooks. Lang's chumbush playing on this song is amazing. They cover Prince's "Forever In My Life", and somehow it sounds like they have two small amps in a fishing boat as they play guitars while floating into the swamp's heart of darkness.

Whitley's "Velocity Girl" illuminates another one of his unforgettable tales between a man and woman behind a subterranean blues soundscape:

"When the sun has gone crashing down and the longing leads your eyes
From the shadows someone calls your name in desire's veiled disguise
When you're flashing down elysian fields with them phantoms on parade
Hollow faces of polished steel riders of the blade
Wake up we're nearly home velocity girl
Stake out your pleasure dome there is a place for us, a pace for us
Now we're naked in a frozen land dry iced amphetamine
Take the handle in your naked hand
Just a ghost in the machine."

Another Dylan cover, "Changing of the Guard", Whitley sings while Lang plays acoustic lap steel and sings alternate verses on an interesting rendition of this cryptic song. "Motion Bride" sounds like some Appalachian rattlesnake jubilee with Lang playing a fretless banjo and Whitley's country harmonic vocal phrasing. These songs travel time. The hidden track, Robert Johnson's "Hellhound On My Trail" remains possibly the best version of the song ever recorded, besides Johnson's original. This version was recorded in April 2005 on a Sydney radio show.

While he was alive, Whitley drew praise from luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and many others. Whitley's early death leaves a lingering spirit on Dislocation Blues - an essential volume in the formidable Whitley discography - that contests Whitley falls into the category of a great American bluesman.

Craig Fenemor, AudioEnz, NZ

Wow. No, that's wrong. WOW. What do you need to know? Great playing, great singing, great songs, great recording - this has it all.

Dislocation Blues was recorded in Melbourne in April of 2005, only for Chris Whitley to die in the November of the same year. What a massive loss to music. The last album that stopped me in my tracks to the extent that Dislocation Blues has was Damian Rice's "O".

The two albums differ greatly in musical style but linking them is an emotional intensity that is quite staggering. Right of the bat you know what you're in for with a version of Stagger Lee that has to be heard to be believed. This is raw, in your face roots/blues sung and played with absolute, white-hot passion. The accompaniment is kept simple with the lead two on various guitars (nationals, lap steels, acoustics, etc) backed up by Grant Cummerford on upright bass and Ashley Davis on drums. It's quite amazing how much impact four instruments and two voices can have but listen to Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and you'll hear a group leaving nothing in reserve.

I try not to comment on the sonics of discs all that much but Dislocation Blues strikes me as being one out of the box. There is an immediacy, an “in the room” feel that puts the boys right there with you. It was recorded at the Aldephia, a room that Jeff Lang has described as "open, live, resonant". That's what the mics capture for sure but it works so, so well for this album. Guitar fans need to have a listen to this as when these two start playing off each other the results are quite special. Throw in the vocal performances, the togetherness of the band and the strength of the songs and you're left with an album of immense impact.

Straight to classic in my scorebook.

Michael Hansen - Pure Music

It's Easter 2005 and the performance of East Texas bluesman Chris Whitley onstage at Australia's Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival is eerie, erratic, somehow foreboding. Whitley is a wraith like figure, fragile, cradling his beloved National Steel, alone on a huge stage, his hunched form shrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke. His set passes and the small crowd disperses.

Soon the disturbed feeling fades in the blur of dozens of other acts and the festival atmosphere. Eight or so months later Chris Whitley is dead. A victim of lung cancer at age 45, the man who liked to be called "Road Dog" gone the way of so many of his fellow practitioners of the blues.

The previous year, having done some shows in the Pacific North West and Alaska with Australian guitar virtuoso Jeff Lang, Whitley had suggested a collaboration, and over three days in April 2005, the two traditionalists came together to produce not only an outstandingly compelling recording, but a fitting memorial to Whitley's singular talents. Dislocation Blues is the kind of recording that celebrates the essence of the blues, it digs deep into the visceral, gut wrenching outpourings of the likes of Skip James, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, and the greatest of the white blues players, Bob Dylan. It brings us a wealth of intuitive, inspired and inspirational playing seldom captured in a studio recording.

Jeff Lang says that "Chris Whitley's music had everything that an artist should aspire to: transcendence, raw honest beauty, bravery, passion" and similar praise can confidently be assigned to Lang, that rarest of players who while capable of the most dazzling virtuosity, invariably brings only what's necessary to the party. Proceedings kick off on Dislocation Blues with the traditional "Stagger Lee," and if for one moment you think you've heard too many takes of this piece, think again. The characteristic shimmering tension of acoustic steel ushers in Whitley's quavering vocal eloquently "talkin' about the bad man" over Lang's amplified acoustic lap steel. The performance is anchored by a brutal bedrock provided by Lang's Australian compatriots Ashley Davies on drums and the precociously talented Grant ("Squire") Cummerford on upright bass. On "Twelve Thousand Miles," one of three Lang compositions, deliciously slippery slide figures dart in and out between Lang's falsetto vocals. "Hear the whisper, do you follow the sound ?" Lang asks, and the ensemble responds with a blistering instrumental passage, as if in anticipation of Lang's declaration that they will "shake the foundation, tear the building down."

Regardless of the quality, emotional depth and impeccable playing on the original material on this recording, it is the two Bob Dylan covers that stand as the highpoints. A swaggering, loping take on the wonderful "When I Paint My Masterpiece,' sees the players cut loose on a joyous romp. Whitley's vocal is breathtakingly soulful and the powerhouse rhythm section is again relentless. In contrast, "Changing Of The Guard" is reverent, even gentle.

It is one of those special pieces of music where we hear kindred spirits at the top of their game, inseparable in their understanding and empathy for the song and uncompromising in their respect for the other's emotions, integrity and musicianship. On the Whitley penned title track, Lang's propulsive banjo drives Whitley's to ask, even plead, again and again "where can the heretic call home?" without resolution. A bonus track on this recording is "Helhound On My Trail." Perhaps Chris Whitley's hellhound has taken him to place where he now knows the answer.

Mark Harrison, Blues in London, 06/07/07

Hellhound on his trail... Chris Whitley, who died aged 45 in November 2005, was one of the more interesting artists in the blues' extended family. He played a battered National, but he had his own special set of chords for it, a kind of parallel universe to the standard, or even non-standard, blues techniques.

In his own way, he was moving the blues on, while keeping one foot firmly in what it's all about. He had an individual playing and writing style and an instantly recognizable voice and over his 15-year recording career, he seems to have been in restless pursuit of just what he wanted to get out of himself. With sad irony, it may well be that he found it in this, his best recording, shortly before he died. Whitley went down all sorts of avenues in that recording career, starting with the brilliant and accessible Living With The Law (1991), with great songs, both solo and with full band, including the astonishing Phone Call From Leavenworth, a contender for greatest modern blues song.

This album could have led to some sort of mainstream success, but Whitley's restlessness as an artist led him off into a variety of less generally accessible sonic landscapes. There was a core to his work that made devotees stick with him, and he remained in essence a blues artist, but some of his work wasn't all that approachable. And his development of a guitar style that leant heavily on a small but effective degree of dissonance ensured cult status. In 2004 he put out War Crime Blues and Weed, two completely solo albums done on the hoof by all accounts, and among his finest work. They're also from the blues part of his muse, the part he seemed to belong in but that he didn't always follow.

These albums confirmed that he was in fact a real bluesman for the modern age. There are no blues standards in them, they're mostly his own songs, which means that he also confirmed that he was a real blues writer. This album, recorded in Australia months before his death, with the Australian blues artist Jeff Lang, is a tour de force. If you like acoustic blues with edgy, eerie undertones, the kind of thing that gave the blues its associations with the devil's music, this is exactly what you'd like a modern blues record to sound like. It's intense, though not in a loud, hollering way, more in a quiet, sweaty night on the Delta kind of way. It's brooding and enigmatic, with no sense of being performed for an audience. It's like stumbling on a small band, led by a troubled soul with an itch that can't be scratched, playing outside some tumbledown building in the middle of nowhere one night.

It kicks off with the probably the best version of the old standard Stagger Lee that's been made since Mississippi John Hurt last had it on his set list. The song is completely reinvented, with a loping backbeat, upright bass, Whitley's National and Lang's lap steel. Whitley's trademark delivery, drawled and thoughtful, then swooping into falsetto, delivers the tale as if he'd made it up and it had all just happened the night before. Most of the tracks continue in this musical vein, with a couple without the rhythm section and Whitley and Lang duetting. This is in essence Whitley's album, but Lang more than plays his part and is more than just along for the ride. He takes lead vocal on three or four tracks, the ones he wrote, but there is no discernible change to the vibe, his voice similar enough to Whitley's to make it all seamless, the songs fitting in with Whitley's just fine. Two of the highlights are the Dylan covers, When I Paint My Masterpiece and Changing Of The Guard. In so far as one can imagine what goes on in the inscrutable Dylan mind, you'd have to imagine that he'd not only approve of these versions, he'd wish he could have made them. Dylan himself now appears to be in some sort of blues poet mode, and what Whitley and Lang do is to turn these songs into brooding blues laments. On the latter, they trade verses, and they inhabit the song as if it belonged only in their world, not so much a cover as a brand new thing. There are two 'hidden' tracks at the end, and the first of these is a live solo recording (sic) of Whitley doing Hellhound On My Trail. This is, as they say, worth the price of admission alone, and is a contender for best Robert Johnson cover of all time. This is Whitley the troubled soul singing about himself - no other explanation could account for the fact that it sounds like something he wrote himself, not an interpretation of someone else's soul in turmoil. He can't sit down and talk about it, he can only sing it out, the jagged guitar accompaniment the perfect background.

Dislocation is about right - Whitley seems to have been a dislocated sort of bloke. But he could really play, and he could really sing, and he could really write, and if this album is anything to go by, he was heading for some truly great, genuinely new, blues. He didn't get the chance, but he made his mark, and on this album alone he showed just how much possibility there still is in this thing called blues.

Nick Hutchinson, Denver Music, USA

Blues finds the late Chris Whitley paired with skilled Aussie and kindred musical soul Jeff Lang. The two ramblers do serious justice to the folk classic "Stagger Lee" and impressively reinvent Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece." These plus their own offerings make you wonder why Whitley was never truly embraced by the masses.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, USA

When rock troubadour Chris Whitley died of cancer in November 2005, he left behind two unreleased CDs, each recorded in just a few days. The gloriously loud "Reiter In", a collaboration with Kenny Siegal and the so-called Bastard Club, was released in 2006 by Red Parlor ( And now comes Dislocation Blues, featuring Whitley and Australian slide wiz Jeff Lang.

Whitley fans will find much to savor on the album, from a strutting "Stagger Lee" to an eerie reinvention of Whitley's "Rocket House". The title track, a primal one-chord blues with Whitley on National guitar and Lang on the banjo-like chumbush, evokes the Malian master Ali Farka Toure. And on Prince's "Forever in My Life," Whitley comes as close to the roots-rock vibe of his astonishing debut, Living with the Law, as anything else he recorded.

The entire CD is a guitar feast, especially Lang's state-of-the-art lap slide. As a songwriter and singer, Lang can't match Whitley's depth of poetry or soul, so his three originals pale by comparison. But that's a minor weakness on a CD that is, overall, a gift to Whitley devotees - or to anyone interested in 21st-century blues.

Joe Ross - Folk and Roots (UK)

Chris Whitley is no longer with us, and before his untimely passing from lung cancer in November 2005 he suggested that the title of this album be "Road Dog Shall Inherit the Earth."

Chris and Jeff met in 1993 when Chris first toured Australia. When Chris returned in April 2005, this album was born in Melbourne. Whitley's swagger coupled with Lang's reedy tenor combine for a sensitive and inspired set. Their instrumental flavorings are rawboned with songs featuring National guitars, acoustic or electric guitar, lap steel, and fretless banjo. Nine of the twelve tracks are a little more raucous with a solid rhythm section with Grant Cummerford's bass and Ashley Davies' drums. "Underground" incorporates punk-folk elements of the Poques and Ramones. Delivering a spare set of raw bluesy tunes, the duo opens with a supple remake of the traditional "Stagger Lee" as a nod to their roots.

Plenty of originals will enthuse acoustic blues fans. Some like Whitley's title cut uses a recurring Turkish chumbush riff (played by Jeff) in a slightly unorthodox approach that continually asks "where can the heretic call home?" It's both poetic and prophetic. From Lang's pen, "Twelve Thousand Miles" is an odd but also reflective and thought-provoking love song inspired by a sweet girl's smile. "Rocket House" expresses blues sentiments of being disjointed, trapped, and being unable to turn back;

"From counterpane to stratosphere all conclusions fade to black, is there freedom from the hemisphere? Where there is no, no turning back."

His message could be a reference to world in turmoil, where confusion and forces beyond our control direct our lives. If there's a song that doesn't quite seem to work, it's their cover of Prince's "Forever in my Life," that sounds undone and treads a line between too mellow and sleepy. Two other covers, Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and "Changing of the Guard" are arranged and sung with more emotion, meaning and personal attachment. The latter is an opaque, cynical and dark-sounding 7-minute song that has both Chris and Jeff singing verses until the last one that they sing in unison. In a foreboding fashion, Chris rushes his reference to "death" in the last verse.

Two months after recording "Dislocation Blues," Whitley was back in the studio recording "Reiter In" with The Bastard Club. In these albums produced during the last year of his life, he was singing with shortened breath and abbreviated lyrical phrasing. However, his haunting vocal interpretations are full of unique fiber and flair. "Dislocation Blues" fulfilled their passion and dreams for an intuitive and playful collaboration of two "road dogs" out to get their groove on.

Lang's pathos in "Ravenswood" could very well carry a subconscious message in tribute to his friend Chris Whitley - "I knelt before him now, his song is sung, now his song is sung, we're just another town, no point slowing down." Lyrics for the originals are included in the CD jacket. In the bonus track (Robert Johnson's "Hellhound On My Trail"), Whitley's parting voice, resonant yet scarred by time, indicates he kept on moving and was defiant to the bitter end, and Jeff Lang joins in and promises to keep the blues fallin' down like hail.

Steven Stone, Vintage Guitar Magazine, USA

The material is Whitley and Lang originals, plus two Dylan covers - "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and "Changing of The Guard." One new song, "Underground," was written by the whole band during the recording session. Whitley and Lang share lead vocals, with Whitley playing National steel guitar and Lang on amplified acoustic lap steel, acoustic guitar, fretless banjo, chumbush, and loops. Grant Cummerford plays upright acoustic and electric bass, and Ashley Davis plays drums/percussion.

Posthumous releases usually do little to enhance an artist's reputation, but Dislocation Blues is a strong exception. It gives a glimpse into Chris Whitley's possible but unfortunately truncated future. His unique take on acoustic blues achieved a level of intensity and personal truth that few, if any, contemporary blues practitioners have matched.

Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily, USA

Another noted figure swimming in swampadelic blues waters, Chris Whitley, died terribly young in 2005 from lung cancer. "Dislocation Blues" (Rounder, B+) captures the slack-stringed Dobro guitar player and moaning polecat in his last recording sessions in Australia. It was a collaboration with stinging, Sydney-based (Sic) electric guitarist/singer Jeff Lang that made both men stronger in the process. A shame it couldn't last.

Matt Rowe - MusicTap, May 4th 2007

I can't ignore it any longer. Good, raw, rock n roll for the sake of the music is a rarity when it's not been gussied up and worried over. It's not that I don't like honed rock n roll, but it certainly is refreshing to hear some folks pick up a guitar, and some sticks, and just play for the love of it.

Rock and Roll in a pure sense is music over the last 40 or so years that have not been classified as specific genres like, say, jazz would be. It can be pigeon-holed as heavy metal, hard-core, pop, glam, and punk much like bands that you know are, or it can be raw and hard to define like the subject of this review, Dislocation Blues by Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang.

Dislocation Blues was recorded between short tours by the two components of this magnificent recording in 2005 in Australia, where Jeff Lang resides. Chris Whitley, a US musician, carved out time to work this album with Lang and what ends up as the music found here is pretty compelling stuff. Not long after the completion of this album, Chris Whitley discovered he had lung cancer and succumbed to the disease in November of 2005.

Dislocation Blues begins with an arrangement of the traditional "Stagger Lee" blues songs that is often arranged by many bands. This slowed and industrial production is quite a work all by itself. Accompanied by 11 more songs that include another slowed down cover, the Dylan classic from Street Legal, "Changing of the Guard", Dislocation Blues is a complete classic all by itself. The guitar lines that replicate the horns found on that Dylan original is chillingly effective making the song one to return to quite often. But song switching will not be necessary here as the album flows wonderfully, making it an album to listen to from start to finish in its chronological setting. If you like your rock n roll blues relentless, then Dislocation Blues will make the laser in your player smoke with heat. As stated before, Dislocation Blues is raw, it is hot, and it is a splendid document of the core of rock n roll. Rating: 4/5

Jason Schneider - Wood Wires and Whiskey Reviews on

The death of singer/guitarist Chris Whitley in November 2005 was a huge loss, but even sadder was how the music media virtually ignored it. Whitley’s dark country blues visions never failed to move, whether in an acoustic setting (Dirt Floor) or with a full-on power trio (Din Of Ecstasy), making his talents often beyond categorisation.

Dislocation Blues, recorded six months before his death, and featuring Australian slide guitarist Jeff Lang and his rhythm section, is the final testament to Whitley's spooky glory. Awash in Delta hoodoo, the pair weave their way through a mix of each other's originals and some well-chosen covers ("Stagger Lee", Dylan's "Changing Of The Guard").

Whitley's influence is clearly strong in Lang's own approach and each plays off the other with the ease and generosity of old friends sitting on the back porch. This energy actually gives Dislocation Blues an edge over Whitley's previous covers-heavy collaboration, 2000's Perfect Day. But while it may provide fans with a proper send-off, the closing hidden track is appropriately, Robert Johnson's "Hellhound On My Trail" - the fact that there will be no more new recordings by Whitley remains the permanent cloud hanging over this dark jewel of an album.

Pittsburgh Post - Gazette - April 6th 2007

Chris Whitley's 'Dislocation Blues' paints a masterpiece Chris Whitley's music is described as many things - American roots, blues, country, alternative rock, blues-roots, alt-country - and it's all those and more. However you label it, his work is clearly of one mind with the passion and profundity of the best blues, so it won't be out of place in BlueNotes (actually, nothing much ever will be).

Whitley died unnecessarily at the age of 45 in November, 2005, and "Dislocation Blues" (Rounder) was among the last albums he recorded. He recorded it with Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Jeff Lang in Australia, where the album was released last year. It thankfully made its way to the U.S. market this week. Like most of Whitley's music I've heard, these are disconcertingly intense and personal recordings -- almost painfully expressive and revealing. And equally pleasurably painful to enjoy.

Lang adds another, similarly existential dimension, if one could be found to exist. Their covers are unique, their songwriting powerfully so. The first track here, which I seem drawn to over and over, is yet another, yet a completely new, visitation to the blues classic "Stagger Lee." Brooding, slide-tinged tones conjure a sepulchral mood; percussion throbs and penetrates, breathless vocals strain for the beauty and the brutal essence of the song. This hypnotic 71/2-minute dirge sounds like the first real "Stagger Lee" I've ever heard. After all, the tragic death of Billy Lyons was probably never meant to be party music. (Wikipedia offers an interesting history.) I'm equally impressed with "When I Paint My Masterpiece," heretofore classic Dylan. Whitley gives it a similarly "Stagger Lee" spectral interpretation, and once again makes you feel that this was the way the song was meant to be heard. Lang's mournful harmonies add depth and meaning. Plus you can actually understand the lyrics. Whitley's and Lang's vocal interplay as they move through the songs illustrate complimentary voices, minds and moods. On Dylan's "Changing of the Guard," they are haunting reminders of the pleasures of the human voice as emotional instruments. The entire piece of work has a magical quality that seems to emanate from the vocal and instrumental interplay, and tends to defy description. It is edgy, affective, spiritual in ways that less direct music can not be. And as wonderfully appropriate as the title is, I think I prefer Whitley's unrealized title as revealed in the liner notes: "Road Dog Shall Inherit The Earth."

I guess it's obvious that I like this album, and Whitley's music in particular. Unfortunately, I didn't pay a lot of attention to Chris Whitley when he was alive. From what I can tell, a lot of other people did likewise. We are all somewhat less for that, but at least his music survives. This rather long review is meant to atone.