What's much less debatable is Whitley's ability to craft compelling, frequently haunting lyrical scapes and frame them in a number of roots styles. Along the way, Whitley's dozen-strong discography has at times crossed his poetics with samples and electronics and mixed-in jazz, consorting as he has with the likes of DJ Logic and members of Medeski, Martin & Wood. Last year's Hotel Vast Horizon, one of several stripped-down offerings in the catalog, is an always engaging set in which subtle stylistic transformations take place within a stark, monochromatic canvas. At times, Whitley's vocal urgency and the folk modality cast him as Richard Thompson's tortured brother, only to morph on the next track into a breezy, almost "mellow" groove.
Whitley's two new releases, War Crime Blues and Weed, are reportedly available only from his label's website or at shows. Your chance to grab them is close at hand.