Wednesday, January 28, 2009

William Elliott Whitmore - Animals In The Dark

I met Whitmore at Twangfest in St. Louis a couple of years ago. I ended up talking with him and the guys from Backyard Tire Fire while they soundchecked and took solace in that fact that even if their bands ended up sucking that night, they sure seemed to be good people. During our chat, William mentioned that he lived in a shack in Iowa without heat or running water, but so genuinely that it didn't seem to be just dropped to impress. He played an early set later that night to a real Hank III kind of crowd ranging from trainhopper crust kids to grey-haired purists, all of whom seemed to enjoy a drink.

Whitmore played solo, as is his custom, with only sparse banjo and guitar to accompany him. He was in good voice and the crowd was really into him, especially that ladies. I remember liking him, but listening to Animals In The Dark, I would have thought a guy who sings like he does would make me pay attention. Frankly, I'm not sure how I feel about his voice. My first thought was that it was way too Chambers Brothers and maybe a tad affected. At some parts it even gets a little Darius Rucker and I'm not sure that's really the best idea if you're playing to the Anti- set, but what do I know?

My shitting on him aside, Whitmore is definitely talented in the playing and singing departments, and for his Anti- debut he's fleshed out the tracks a bit, embellishing the tracks with spartan string and steel parts to burnish things up. I really need to check out his older recorded stuff (six records) on Southern. The rawer stuff like Hell Or High Water reminds me of Preston Long in his Young James Long incarnation and you don't get much better than that. In poking around, Whitmore seems to be a solid guy with a soulful voice and a populist bent. Hopefully the move to Anti has prompted a move to more winter weather friendly habitation. My misgivings aside, Animals In The Dark is well worth checking out, do that here and maybe even buy it from the good folk of Anti- if you see fit. If you get bitten by the bug, keep track on Whitmore's current whereabouts here.


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