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Trixie Whitley ¬ Fourth Corner (2013)

 Trixie Whitley ¬ Fourth Corner (2013)

Trixie Whitley — Fourth Corner
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Album release: January 29, 2013
Record Label: Strong Blood Records
Duration:     46:30
Tracks:
01. Irene     4:03
02. Never Enough     3:41
03. Pieces     4:39
04. Need Your Love     3:34
05. Silent Rebel PT. 2     4:44 
06. Breathe you in my dreams     4:20 
07. Gradual Return     3:42 
08. Hotel No Name     4:13 
09. Morelia     4:50 
10. Fourth Corner     4:38 
11. Oh, The Joy     4:08
Website: http://www.trixiewhitley.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trixiewhitley 
Editorial Reviews
¶  2013 album from the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter. Fourth Corner was recorded in New York with producer/keyboardist Thomas Bartlett (AKA Doveman, who's also worked with Glen Hansard, Antony and the Johnsons, Grizzly Bear and the National), engineer Pat Dillett and with string arrangements by Rob Moose (Antony, Bon Iver). Whitley burst into public consciousness in 2011 as the lead singer of Black Dub, super-producer Daniel Lanois' (U2, Bob Dylan) project, blowing people away with a voice and presence beyond her now-25 years. Whitley has become one of the most talked about new artists of 2013.


REVIEW
¶  Destined for Greatness  (January 31, 2013)
By Joshua Carson  (Rating: *****)
¶  Trixie Whitley performed at a club in my city a short while ago. Oh, my goodness. After many years of being a musician myself, in and out of clubs and studios in L.A., Portland, San Francisco, and all points in between, I've seen them come and seen them go. Here is an artist of uncommon depth, soul, commitment, and emotion.
¶  Yes, yes, she's the daughter of the marvelous, mysterious, lamentably lost too early Chris Whitley. If anyone has ever embraced and cultivated the gifts available in inheritance, it is this young woman. She is simply stupendous, melding the genres of Soul, R&B, Rock, and her own family legacy of deep expression and direct dancing with the muse.
¶  Inspiring, hair-raising, exuberant, uncompromising in her vision, she is a multi-instrumentalist with an extraordinary voice, and her talents have already merited her inclusion with the likes of Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade, and Daryl Jones....and this, four years ago, when she was only 21 years old.
¶  Don't delay. Buy this CD, and her earlier EPs. A short while from now, you will say to your friends, "I was hip to her before she was famous, and you could still see her in smaller venues."
¶  Check out her website, and watch the videos for "I'd Rather Go Blind," and "A Thousand Thieves" if you doubt my enthusiasm.
¶  Here is a singular, heartfelt, inspiring new talent that will repay your attention beyond any expectations.
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REVIEW
By Nick Gunther, Glide Magazine
¶  January 29, 2013
Rating: ****
¶  When Black Dub surfaced in late 2010 with the release of their self-titled debut, it was Trixie Whitley’s passion-filled voice that deeply defined the personality of the band.  The quartet, led by producer Daniel Lanois, was built around the dynamic voice of Whitley, but the experience provided the young artist with a great learning opportunity, and she met the challenge with an intense sense of focus.  At the time, her career as a solo artist was somewhat put on hold while writing, recording and touring with Black Dub, but after redefining her path forward for this current project, Trixie Whitley has returned with a new debut, her first full length record titled Fourth Corner.  For this project, Whitley tapped New York-based producer, and friend, Thomas Bartlett (known in some circles as “Doveman”), after finding trust and meaning through collaborations in the past.  
¶  The opening track, “Irene,” inspired by the 2011 storm that hit New York, leads off instrumentally with an industrial-tone driven style of drum programming, the pulsing tempo that sets the foundation for Whitley’s voice.  That rhythmic style carries itself throughout the album, as Whitley, first a drummer herself, experimented with the MPC-style of texture creation on some of the songs, searching for tones to match what was in mind.  On “Pieces,” there is a patient openness to this form of the arrangement and the swelling string sections that enter as the song builds provides a great amount of momentum for the song to propel, led heavily by the sharp bowing of the cello towards the end of the song.  “I’m leaving pieces behind, everywhere I go; every time I go I’m leaving behind my soul,” sings Whitley on the emotion-filled track.    
¶  As a songwriter, Trixie Whitley takes an abstract approach to her lyricism, where her words derive a great amount of curiosity and creativity.  “Elderly stories soaked into young woman’s bones,” sings Whitley on “Gradual Return;” the line describes a sense of appreciation in continued learning.  That elusive creativity is something she continues to search for and quickly capture when revealed.  Her honesty as a musician becomes vivid especially through live performance, and this recording bottles that image uniquely.  The variable orchestration and detailed lyrics found on Fourth Corner show Trixie Whitley’s ability to structure ideas in separate environments, all while maintaining descriptive imagery for her voice to project upon.Glide Magazine - Music :: Culture :: Life 
-------------------------------------------------------------------- © Anton Coene photo´s August run
Description:
¶  Trixie Whitley has played stages all over the globe, but she is best known, if at all, as the lead vocalist of Daniel Lanois‘ supergroup Black Dub. Whitley, still in her twenties, is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with the confidence and savvy of a schooled veteran. She’s been performing in Europe and New York since she was a kid, in mediums ranging from music and dance to theater.
¶  Fourth Corner is her debut full-length; it follows 3 EPs that began with 2008's Strong Blood (produ- ced with Me’Shell Ndegéocello and Dougie Bowne). She is the daughter of the innovative guitarist and songwriter Chris Whitley. Her primary collaborators on this self-penned 11-song set are producer/ keyboardist Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), and engineer Pat Dillett — both have lengthy credit sheets. There are a handful of other guests, including drummer Ben Perowski and Black Dub bassist Daryl Johnson. Lead-off single “Breathe You in My Dreams,” with its brooding, elegiac intensity, sparse instrumentation, nocturnal effects, and deeply soulful vocals is an excellent introduction to her gifts as singer and writer. Whitley is firmly grounded in roots traditions — vintage soul, R&B, blues, and rock — but she invests them with a 21st century modernism that extends these vintages toward indie rock with intuitive production, wily hooks, strategic effects, solid lyrics, and that amazing voice. She peels the leathery scars off the listener’s heart while bearing her own in each tune. Her slide guitar playing is clearly influenced by her late dad’s (the barely contained feedback and distortion in the scorching rocker “Hotel No Name” and the lone National Steel blues in the moving closer “Oh, The Joy” are prime examples), but it’s never the focal point; it’s an elemental service to her songwriting, as are her drumming, bass playing, and piano skills). “Pieces,” with its layered chamber strings and skeletal percussion loop, support the emotional tightrope that is her singing. “I Need Your Love” is a hybrid retro-soul with an infectious nodding rhythm. The jazzy “Morelia,” is elegant but packs a wallop. ¶  The atmospheric title cut unwinds gradually, hovering and drifting on a shimmering frame with only her voice to ground and illuminate the poetic crevices in the lyric and shed light on the rumbling emotions beneath. Fourth Corner establishes Whitley as a sophisticated, mature songwriter and a passionate vocalist only beginning to realize her powers.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- © Anton Coene photo´s August run
REVIEW
By Matt James 31 January 2013  (Rating: )
¶  Trixie Whitley’s bio is the stuff of fairytale. She was never destined to be stacking tins of Spam in aisle three. Her mysterious father was Chris Whitley, a talented troubadour tipped by rock royalty - Springsteen, Petty, Keef , Iggy – but who died tragically young. Trixie herself lived a nomadic, boho-chic upbringing with her Gypsy Belgian mother but was swiftly handpicked for Pop Immortality by Überproducer and BFF of Bono n’ Bob, Daniel Lanois. Et voilà! A Jeff Buckley-shaped cut out n’ keep legend-in-the-making. But this is all gravy in the shadow of THAT voice. The Trixter is blessed with such Joplin-sized pipes she could literally blow away your hair, eyebrows and pants with a careless whisper. But before we hold hands and say Grace, lest we forget not all fairytales carry happy endings and alas Fourth Corner proves somewhat Grimm.
¶  Whitley herself is a star, no question. The Trix-vox is a powerhouse colossus and clearly the get-outta-jail free, saving grace of Fourth Corner but the majority of her début is scuppered by dour, flat music, clichéd chocolate box, diary sentiment and a real scarcity of spark and joy. There’s a blanket o’ blandness coverin’ n’ smotherin’ every corner. You suspect the ever dubious quest for “Authenticity, maan” has led its creators chasing their tails. Less Etta or Mavis, more the sort of commercialised, homogeneous “Press your buzzers now”, plastic soul that gets the zombified masses hysterically whooping ‘n’ a-hollerin’ through American Idol.
¶  The snoozy disappointment is there from the first note. “Irene” kicks off with sultry, schmokin’ voodoo drums and Scooby Doo synths but soon slips into every sepia n’ sweat, formulaic, “On my knees, begging you please” blues revue dial-a-cliché. Anastacia rather than Aretha. Eek! “Never Enough” is similarly overproduced to within an inch of its life. Every ounce of blood, spontaneity and individuality squeezed dry in favour of the kind of beige blandness fit solely for dead-eyed, ‘groundhog day forever’ dinner parties. Literally nothing happens. Well, except that several squillion notes are sung where one will suffice nicely, thank you. Later there is a song called “Need Your Love” where Whitters warbles - Mon Dieu! - “I need your love” ad infinitum. Credit where it’s due, Trix always sings as if her entire family were held hostage by Mexican Bandits and the only way she can free them is with her Super Lungs… but it’s still achingly drab. She puts in the hours but cannot resuscitate the deathly dull clockwork mechanics of the factory line “Will-this-do?” soundtrack behind her. There are such paint drying lows you even dangerously, nay insanely, ponder “What would David Guetta do with this?” Put a donk on it, probably.
¶  Crushingly there’s rumness aplenty. The gloomy “Silent Rebel Pt2” (Chuckle) is as ‘serious-face’ daft as its title. “Don’t let them steal your wind” hippiness like “Do they really wanna breathe in fear? / Is old fashioned neurosis all they wanna hear?” and the tee-hee spoken word / ‘Rap dawg’ middle-eight momentarily suggest this may be some elaborate prank. “Breathe You In My Dreams” starts off promisingly – waltz-time and inspired “Silver shadows walking by my side” imagery – but swiftly descends into the Christina Aguilera “I’m gonna sing one billion notes really loudly ‘til I get a standing ovation or dammit we’re stayin’ here all night” routine. As if you don’t realise “This is the Gospel one” a Gospel choir are wheeled on stage exclaiming “I! BREATHE! YOU!” for seemingly no reason other than “We were in the neighbourhood and weren’t busy”. ¶  Later the gentle “Morelia” (“Don’t let the river go dry”, etc.) triggers another powernap before the lullaby lilting title track instigates more schoolboy sniggering “Conflicted by the w-e-st / challenged by the east…condemned in the eye of a sleeping mind / Waving out the window of time”. Riiiight.
¶  But what makes Corner so frustrating is what could have been. Whitley’s voice deserves better material. Something with kick, electricity, life. There are scintillating moments which make you bolt up and dust off your golden slumbers. The closing-time moonlit melancholy of “Pieces” for one. Its ‘on the road again’ heroine packin’ up her troubles and skippin’ town Hulk-style, just one broken heart and a suitcase full o’ ripped purple trousers. “I’m leaving pieces behind, everywhere I go”. A true treasure of raw emotion that squeezes your heart, hard. The slow, glowin’ embers of Whitley’s voice serenaded by simmering strings and a new dawn rising. Gorgeous. Elsewhere the balmy, summer blues of wistful wonder “Gradual Return” hugs ‘n’ rolls like Hendrix wrestling Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”. The stormy “Hotel No Name” similarly threatens to kiss the sky with its stripped Neil Young ragged glory and serpentine Patti Smith-inspired piss n’ vinegar preachin’. “As I sit here with my…with my glass o’ wiiine” Trixie broods. It’s Whitley unchained, gleefully rollin’ in the mud ‘n’ blood. The moment with the truest touch though is saved for the finale. “Oh Joy” is a four-minute campaign trail for shutting Trixter in a room with one chair, one mic, one six-string and hitting ‘Record’. Raw, breath on your neck intimate, true force, no tricks, no bullshit. “I was born to listen to the oldest voices” she confesses and it’s this moment we’ve longed for. Finally, fleetingly, she gets her Live at Sin-é moment. The sound of your heart being 100% nailed to the floor. WHOOP! There it is. 
¶  Ultimately Fourth Corner fails to convince. The songs are riddled with so much cliché, musically and lyrically, you’ll be screaming for something, anything unexpected to happen. Maybe it’s because we still shiver in the tall shadows of the ‘New Boring’ - the all conquering touchy feely, confessionals of Adele, Sande and Sheeran - but damn these mountains really need shaking. Having the voice of a colossus ain’t worth a damn unless you’re singing something worth hearing. For now Fourth Corner reaffirms that between the twin towers of fire ‘n’ ice there’s still an awful lot of luke warm water.

Trixie Whitley ¬ Fourth Corner (2013)

 

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