Thursday, September 01, 2011

William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs

William Elliott Whitmore's Iowa farmer perspective infuses darkly soulful songs with dirt under the fingernails realism put across with an extraordinary big, booming voice. Each song is a call to arms, inspiring the listener action and reaction. Reminds me of Jay Farrar - an old soul frozen in a young man's body.

Field Songs evokes old time spirituals, songs of faith sung by slaves to try and ease their burdens. "Let's Do Something Impossible" implores the listener to reach for something grand, something unthinkable like escaping Alcatraz, defeating Custer or Hitler, or just betting it all on one horse to win it all. Just dream big. It seems to be the most hopeful statement from Whitmore to date.

The sparse instrumentation (a gently picked banjo, a barely strummed guitar) puts the focus on Whitmore's bruising vocals, and he hangs on to words like he's afraid to let them go. The vocals can be folky soothing like John Gorka, punky soulful like Willy DeVille or bar room broken akin to Lucero's Ben Nichols. At 8 songs and 34 minutes, Field Songs scores a quick and decisive knockout, landing blows for the oppressed and depressed everywhere.

William Elliott Whitmore - "Hell or High Water" (from Animals in The Dark)

William Elliott Whitmore - "Don't Pray on Me" (Bad Religion cover)

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