Thursday, September 22, 2011
William Elliott Whitmore "Animals in the Dark" (2009)
In some alternate reality, there's a story about an old blues singer -- some unknown member of Son House's cohort -- who swaps places with a hardcore Iowa farmboy. We'll say they're using a perception filter or something so that no one notices the young white dude is really an old black man. The album he records is this album.
While still personal & direct, this is a document of our depression. The songs are angry at the leadership of our nation. They feel sorrow for the loss of better times. But it never feels like polemic. Whitmore approaches everything from a place of personal emotion, and on a personal scale.
The simple instrumentation (guitar, banjo, drums) echo the prewar songs that documented the hard times early in the 20th century. The cliche is that his voice is the voice Tom Waits wishes he had. Perhaps it's true, but to me his voice is the voice of the old blues. His powerful right hand drives the music & accentuates his anger. Powerful stuff.