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Pop - Released February 4, 1997 | Work

On Terra Incognita, Chris Whitley incorporates the grunge flourishes of Din of Ecstasy into the roots-rock foundations of his debut, Living with the Law. Instead of relying on processed distorted guitars, Whitley uses noise as texture, which helps his songs breathe. While the musical direction of Terra Incognita is considerably more focused than its confused predecessor, Whitley's songwriting remains uneven. Though he has written a better, more diverse record than before, he has yet to produce a set of songs that demonstrate the depth and variety of Living with the Law. Too often, he relies on cliches or simplistic ideas, like the single "Automatic," but when he digs a little deeper, his songs still resonate deeply, which means Terra Incognita is a partial, not a full, comeback. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo