Trixie Whitely Becomes One To Watch on ‘Porta Bohemica’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

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trixiealbuLik last album, Fourth Corner, 2016’s Porta Bohemica reflects the strength and confidence of a performer that possesses an extended resume. Indeed, on initial encounter, several striking forebears come to mind – Annie Lennox, Betty Levert, Aretha Franklin, and any number of other revered divas. Whitley’s doesn’t attempt to imitate those icons, but she does emulate them to a great extent.  Her pliable vocals show remarkable range, veering from a whisper to wail in ways that are bound to garner favorable comparisons.

Still, despite the disparate influences that surface this time around — a mixed bag that incorporates punk, electronica, hip-hop and old school R&B — Trixie Whitley turns mostly introspective on this sophomore set, taking a low-key approach that belies the buzz she achieved with Fourth Corner, her dazzling debut. Whitely’s not exactly a newcomer; she likely learned a few chops from her old man, singer/songwriter Chris Whitley, and spent much of her preteen years as a freewheeling DJ before being drafted by Daniel Lanois to front his band Black Dub.

With Porta Bohemica, Whitley mostly eschews extraneous trappings for the sake of quiet repose. Whitley’s never been an easy artist to typecast, but given the emotion and vulnerability she projects here, that elusive image is all the more affirmed. Taking its name from a train line that once ran between Germany and Austria, Porta Bohemica may be a more subdued follow up than some might have anticipated, given that its austere trappings and oblique references seem to advance that notion overall. Still, there are certain songs — “Closer,” “Hourglass,” “Eliza’s Smile” — convey a haunting allure, sensuous, seductive, and intriguing as well. Those passionate performances set the tone, and for that reason alone, Whitley’s become one to watch.

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