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Living With The Law

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Album Review

Chris Whitley's 1991 debut, Living with the Law, was recorded in Daniel Lanois' New Orleans mansion and was produced by Malcolm Burn. The sublimely dark, creepy, and possessed collection sounds completely out of place for the era of slick pop/rock like Milli Vanilli. The tortured album is rich with old-style sounds, from slide guitars to pedal steel. (Lanois contributes some on the album.) Living with the Law has a full, ambient feel that transports the listener into the recording. Whitley humbly (and falsely) claims, at the beginning of the record, that "God knows it's all been done." But these 12 songs attempt an original look at an honest style and passionate mood that is lacking in much of rock music. Whitley sings of drug abuse, alienation, failure, and loneliness with a Delta blues flavor. Standout tracks include "Phone Call from Leavenworth," "Big Sky Country," and "Dirt Radio." Those who liked Whitley's Dirt Floor must own Living with the Law if they don't already. It is more of a full-band sound, but similar in tone and feel. An exceptional and mesmerizing debut, one with the potential to inspire all who hear it. (This release is also fascinating for those who enjoy Rocket House. Influences on the 2001 album can be heard throughout Living with the Law, released a decade earlier.) An album Robert Johnson may have recorded, were he still alive.

Customer Reviews

Pure Genius

Shows through on every note of this album. From the slide in on "Excerpt" you know you've departed on a dark yet wonderous flight through human emotion that has no equal in style and expression. You simply cannot compare this artist to anyone, Chris Whitley is, or sadly was, unique. I latched onto this album when I was at a dark and low point in my life and it fit so perfectly that it actually helped me get back into the light. Obviously I cant explain that one but go figure feelings....While every song here is beyond great I think my favorites have to be Make the Dirt Stick, Dust Radio, Long Way Around and Look What Love has Done. Gritty and down to earth, yet mystical, this album challenges your musical sensibility and re-writes the rules of blues expression. This one HAS to be in any Blues fans collection. I love you Chris. See you in the Big Sky Country.Rest In Peace.

You know when it speaks to you...

Just a few words...I never found an album in any music genre that spoke to me like this one did. Chris comes out with such an unbelievable haunt of places and times that it seems I just need to be there. An absolute stunner, I couldn't find the album physically anywhere - and it's memories came back to me the other day while I was driving - accompanied by a HUGE smile. Had to find it again and when I did it brought all the memories of the album, and nothing else surrounding it whenever, whatever, back. It speaks directly for itself. I am there every time I hear it.

One of my Top 10 favorite albums of all-time

Without a doubt... one of the best albums i've ever heard. Sometimes I can't understand what Chris is referring to lyrically, but that doesn't mean it's meaningless. The lyrics are deep and important. The music in general is so interesting, yet easy to listen to. To hear an artist with such soul and conviction as he plays his national guitar (slide) is amazing. I had never heard of Chris Whitley until my friend in Hollywood gave me "Living with the Law" in early 2006. I was immediately blown away from then on by the talent of Chris. As a SERIOUS singer/songwriter myself, this album changed my entire outlook on music.


Born: August 31, 1960 in Houston, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Chris Whitley was a Texas-based singer/songwriter who initially began his career as a bluesy roots rocker, but as his career progressed, he moved deeper into rock & roll and alternative rock. Though Whitley's albums usually received positive reviews, they rarely sold, and his tendency to rework his sound prevented him from developing a sizable cult following among singer/songwriter fans. As a child, Whitley moved frequently through the Southeast, eventually moving with his mother to Mexico when...
Full Bio
Living With The Law, Chris Whitley
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Customer Ratings

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