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Chris Whitley certainly knows a thing or two about playing the blues, having crafted some of the most original, emotionally compelling examples the genre has seen in decades. More important, he knows a thing or two about conveying the spirit of the blues, which is not dependent on timeworn instrumentation or chord progressions. That's certainly clear on this bracing disc's 11 tracks, which crisscross the sonic spectrum while maintaining the dark intensity inherent in Whitley's compositions. "To Joy (Revolution of the Innocents)" undulates with an urban tribal vibe that recalls German space-rockers Can, while "Little Torch" finds Whitley riding the angry-sounding samples of DJ Logic, a driving force on many of the album's tunes. Not everything on Rocket House is intended to punish, though: "Solid Iron Heart" is stripped down and utterly beguiling, while "Radar" (which features cameos from Dave Matthews and Bruce Hornsby) ambles along amiably, although it does require listeners to take a few left turns on the way. More historically minded types might have trouble with some of Whitley's hybrids, but folks who prefer living, breathing art to the kind that hangs in a museum won't want to miss a tour of Rocket House.