WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE: New Faces 09

It makes complete sense that Iowa-born songsmith William Elliott Whitmore, prepares to release his latest, Animals in the Dark, on Anti-

It makes complete sense that Iowa-born songsmith William Elliott Whitmore, prepares to release his latest, Animals in the Dark, on Anti-. The label also boasts luminaries such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. Comparisons to the three are easy. The gravelly growl, the dark lyricism, the outlaw leanings. Not to mention the rock-solid songwriting.















It makes complete sense that Iowa-born songsmith William Elliott Whitmore, prepares to release his latest, Animals in the Dark, on Anti-. The label also boasts luminaries such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. Comparisons to the three are easy. The gravelly growl, the dark lyricism, the outlaw leanings. Not to mention the rock-solid songwriting.

For his past four full-length releases, Whitmore has built a simple but sturdy approach to songwriting in the manner of Robert Johnson, Charley Patton and Hank Williams. One senses the pastoral surroundings in their music, just like one can taste the chains clanging and the dust rising in the recordings of prison work songs. Whitmore writes all of his songs while working on his father’s horse farm, be it splitting firewood, seeding fields, or harvesting eggs. There’s no bathroom on the property-just an outhouse. It’s all there in his dark bark and creaky porch front picking, the dirt crunching and sweat pouring as his melodies move along upon a horse-drawn rhythm.

Animals in the Dark fleshes certain elements out, often taking more of a band-like approach to composition. But the listener can still picture rusting barbed wire stretched across knotty cedar fence posts and drying wheat fields rustling in the wind. Whitmore himself brilliantly paints pictures of feeding horses and swimming in murky ponds. He also tackles larger subjects, such as on rambunctious opener “Mutiny” and the “State Trooper”-esque “Johnny Law.” However, this is certainly more than a political protest. It’s a record filled with hope for those wearied by “Hard Times.”

Whitmore has toured with bands as diverse as Converge, the Pogues, Against Me, and Lucero. These pairings are as much of a testament to his to his dyed-in the wool, DIY approach as it is to his strength as a songwriter. He describes his attitude on Animals in the Dark‘s “Lifetime Underground, “recounting that he’s “played in bars, in nursing homes…everywhere else and in between.” This grassroots method has and will allow him to persevere on the dusty route towards his aspirations-perhaps one day carving his name amongst those aforementioned legends.



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