State of Affairs
There must be something in the air up in Virginia. Listen to nearly any 10-second clip from Cavalier-state export Graham Whorley’s solo debut, and the comparisons to Va.-based loop guitarist Keller Williams are immediate. Despite his very similar sound, Whorley is able to hold his own, fortunately, placing staccato acoustic riffs over groovable, rhythmic layers to create a diverse album of jams and ballads. Opening track “Sway” repeatedly asks, “Tell me what it is to make you act that way?” as Whorley loops his vocals, effectively harmonizing with himself. Insightful, pressing lyrics like, “Do you hear the cries and fears?/God has been missing for years,” (on “God’s Playpen”) give credence to Whorley’s sometimes strained and distant-sounding voice. He places the ballads early on the album, then breaks out the slide on “CC My Playmate” to get the blood flowing. “Cue” is a live recording from the Pour House, beginning with an almost haunting, anticipatory bass walk that he complements with steel drum-like layered solos higher on his guitar’s neck. By “Diablo Senorita,” a song with a riff reminiscent of Phish’s “First Tube,” the album has picked up enough to get people off the couch and dancing. Title track “State of Affairs” closes the disc, utilizing audio clips from President Bush defending his disregard of the Geneva Convention (“Outrages upon human dignity? That’s very vague.”), with heavy drums and bass giving emphasis to the implications of those words. Whorley’s done a good job here, utilizing samples and showing off his guitar and loop expertise to put together a polished, solid presentation of his solo capabilities. See www.grahamwhorley.com for more. —Stratton Lawrence
The full Graham Whorley Band perform at Johnson’s Pub on Sat. June 30. Whorley performs solo at Meritäge downtown on Sun. July 1 at 10 p.m.