William Elliott Whitmore has been my musical obsession for about five years, now. He fell into my lap back in my Turntable.fm days, one listen of that gravelly, bluesy voice and I was hooked. While I cut my teeth on "Animals in the Dark" and "Field Songs" I was struck by the contrast between the two. One was aggressive, unapologetic, pissed off and rude, while "Field Songs" was more a reflective, introspective, resigned to its fate piece. This forced me to research back some to see which is more the "true" WEW and I have realized they both are. I realize not a lot of you know who this man is (while some might recognize the voice from the video game Red Dead Redemption) but don't feel bad, the Program Director at our local "good music" station had never heard of him or his music, either. Don't worry kids, he has now!
His new album Radium Death is out March 31st on ANTI Records, with a supporting tour to boot, and I'm happy to report from what I've heard so far it's going to be a perfect marriage of both styles along with a new edge and determination to his delivery.
First single off Radium Death "Healing To Do" starts like an almost rockabilly jam with the guitar and tempo, then WEW's trademark rasp kicks in and you're smack in the middle of an alt-country/punk delight. As much as I love him stripped down and simple, I love the added plushness of the band and that he always keeps us guessing. It took a few listens for me to decide whether or not I liked "Healing To Do." I'm glad I pushed through because to say this song has grown on me is a gross understatement. I love Whitmore's tales of the plight of the "everyman." Born and bred in Iowa on the farm at which he still resides puts him in prime position to educate the masses on the grit, glory and struggle of the Midwest Farmer. The song opens with "My soul was achin', and my hands were weak/My heart, my heart was breakin', my mouth could not speak" and from there plays out like being narrated by the speaker at a Town Meeting at the turn of last century. He knows their pain, feels it and has lived it but implores the angry farmer to take it down a notch and try to believe in a better future. because afterall, we've all got some healing to do. Listen below and enjoy! I'll be back with the second song for you, soon.