When Black Dub surfaced in late 2010 with the release of their self-titled debut, it was Trixie Whitley’s passion-filled voice that deeply defined the personality of the band. The quartet, led by producer Daniel Lanois, was built around the dynamic voice of Whitley, but the experience provided the young artist with a great learning opportunity, and she met the challenge with an intense sense of focus. At the time, her career as a solo artist was somewhat put on hold while writing, recording and touring with Black Dub, but after redefining her path forward for this current project, Trixie Whitley has returned with a new debut, her first full length record titled Fourth Corner. For this project, Whitley tapped New York-based producer, and friend, Thomas Bartlett (known in some circles as “Doveman”), after finding trust and meaning through collaborations in the past.
The opening track, “Irene,” inspired by the 2011 storm that hit New York, leads off instrumentally with an industrial-tone driven style of drum programming, the pulsing tempo that sets the foundation for Whitley’s voice. That rhythmic style carries itself throughout the album, as Whitley, first a drummer herself, experimented with the MPC-style of texture creation on some of the songs, searching for tones to match what was in mind. On “Pieces,” there is a patient openness to this form of the arrangement and the swelling string sections that enter as the song builds provides a great amount of momentum for the song to propel, led heavily by the sharp bowing of the cello towards the end of the song. “I’m leaving pieces behind, everywhere I go; every time I go I’m leaving behind my soul,” sings Whitley on the emotion-filled track.
As a songwriter, Trixie Whitley takes an abstract approach to her lyricism, where her words derive a great amount of curiosity and creativity. “Elderly stories soaked into young woman’s bones,” sings Whitley on “Gradual Return;” the line describes a sense of appreciation in continued learning. That elusive creativity is something she continues to search for and quickly capture when revealed. Her honesty as a musician becomes vivid especially through live performance, and this recording bottles that image uniquely. The variable orchestration and detailed lyrics found on Fourth Corner show Trixie Whitley’s ability to structure ideas in separate environments, all while maintaining descriptive imagery for her voice to project upon.