In the Jukebox: Graham Whorley 

A review of the local songwriter's live solo LP

Graham Whorley
Live Loop Vol. 1

Local fans love songwriter Graham Whorley for his musical and technical versatility as much as for his genial, Southern style. As a solo performer with an acoustic six-string and a few effects pedals, Whorley can twist and turn with ease, veering from funk and rock to more exotic and worldly genres.

While his studio projects tend to aim for full-band arrangements and a more sophisticated instrumentation, his new live disc Live Loop Vol. 1 captures him all by himself, comfortable and confident.

The 13-song set compiles old and new originals from a handful of gigs at nearby venues, including the Pour House, Coast, the Glass Eye, Awendaw Green, Finz, Boone Hall, and Quigley's (in Pawley's Island). Recorded straight to the mixing board on site, Live Loop Vol. 1 is a stripped-down documentation of Whorley in his own element. It warms things up nicely for fans who can't wait to hear his forthcoming studio album, Permission to Think (due later this spring).

Whether playing straightforward funk, acoustic rockers, and folk-rock tunes or meandering on more spaced-out explorations, Whorley creates an impressive range of string, percussion, and vocal affects. At his most ambitious, his layering guitar and vocal parts sound like a full trio at work.

The sampled chords, guitar melodies, and rhythms allow him to add harmonies and loop pedal affects on the fly, sometimes achieving a full-band sound.

Whorley seems inspired by the likes of Bobby McFerrin and George Benson on the scatty, whispery beatbox mischief of some of the grooviest songs, like "Then Go Back" and "Boomtown." His classical guitar chops pop out in some quieter moments on "Malawho" and "Freak."

The most eerie and sultry tracks, like the double-time "David" or the Tom Waits-esque "Devil's Beatin' His Wife," would fit right in on a gypsy ensemble or West African compilation. Clocking in at over 14 minutes, the mesmerizing and repetitive "God's Play Pen" is practically its own album side.

The upbeat jams on "The Gate" capture some of Whorley's smoothest syncopation, building from a reggae-style rhythm sampled from a scratchy guitar lick and an exhaled "Ah!" Mumbling and loose, Whorley himself sounds entranced by the unique gumbo of grooves. (

Graham Whorley performs at the Rooftop Bar at Vendue Inn on Wed. April 20, at the Aqua Terrace at the Marriott on Thurs. April 21, and at Coast on Sun. April 24.


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