01. - Lyrics - New Lost World
02. - Lyrics - Breaking Your Fall
03. - Lyrics - Frontier
04. - Lyrics - Hotel Vast Horizon
05. - Lyrics - Blues for André
06. - Lyrics - Assassin Song
07. - Lyrics - Wide Open Return
08. - Lyrics - Silhouette
09. - Lyrics - Insurrection at Newtown
10. - Lyrics - Free Interval
The Musicians and other credits:
Guitar/Banjo/ Vocals: Chris Whitley
Electric/Acoustic Bass: Heiko Schramm
Drums/Percussion: Matthias Macht
Produced by Schramm, Whitley, Macht, Röthig
Recorded at Helicopter/Dresden, 16th-22nd
December 2002 by Edgar M. Röthig
Mastered by Chris Athens at Sterling Sound
/ Press Reviews /
Dark acoustic blues from the thin white Texan currently holed up in Germany You'd be hard pushed to come up with a more Americana title than Hotel Vast Horizon. Yet Whitley's best album since 1998's intimate Dirt Floor (a favourite of Bruce Springsteen's too, as it happens) was in fact made in Dresden, backed by a German rhythm section.
Matthias Macht's dark, shuffling drums and Heiko Schramm's thwunking, resinous bass add an intriguing jazzy wash to Whitley's evocative acoustic blues. This is mostly (aside from the gristly Insurrection At Newtown) a slow, moody album, Whitley's distinctive vocal - best I can compare it to is a wheezy, reedy pump organ - threaded through with his twang-free Dobro, guitar and occasional banjo, the oddly flat, broad quality of his playing doing a fine job of evoking those vast horizons he has always pursued.
"Both the elliptical reveries of his lyrics and the push-and-pull tension of his guitar parts produce blues unlike any you've ever heard."
Chris Whitley captures heaven on Hotel Vast Horizon. Recorded in Germany with drummer Matthias Macht and bassist Heiko Schramm, Whitley distills the stripped, ethereal nuance that imbued his Messenger debut, Dirt Floor, applying just a bit of the spit-shine of earlier works such as Living With the Law and even 2001's Rocket House. Each song is dosed with enough hypnotic soul to render a listen rapt and unconscious (to be sure, the guy writes some knockouts). Whitley's spectral vocals and stinging, robust guitar and banjo work (who works a National like Whitley?) again transcend measure, leaving one to speculate as to who posesses the deed to his soul (surely, there has been divine, if not diabolical, intervention). These various talents comprise Whitley's actual gift: the avbility to transport an audience to a place of still beauty with ambrosial air. If it's not the heaven we're admonished to seek, then it must surely be the Hotel Vast Horizon.
Chris Whitley is a master of the National Steel guitar, a difficult instrument that (literally) slides between acoustic and electric blues. It's a description that also fits Whitley the artist, always caught in the distance between styles... He sounds more at home on Hotel Vast Horizon's set of quietly captivating originals. It's a spacious, dark album, full of understated tension and simmering passions, focused on images of desire, corruption and wanderlust.