Redirection makes perfect
Andrew D. Nelson | Texas City, TX USA | 05/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can certainly hear the Tom Waits references, but there's no Beat Generation at work here at all. Captain Beefheart is a better click, especially thinking about CB's almost-mainstream "Clear Spot" album. WEW has a much less rangy voice than the Captain's 4 1/2 octaves, and his lyrical concerns are much less arty/underground, though burials do figure prominently...
What I liked best about this album was its fondness for the subject matter of working folks, but not in a studied, academic or ironic sense. While I like the Be Good Tanyas, for instance, they often irritate me, in part because I hear so much Holy Modal Rounders in their arrangements and even vocals. Both of these groups approach their work with an irreverence that often gets in the way of the song itself (of course, the Rounders were designed to be stoner "acid folk", which is an excuse if you actually lived through that errrrrra).
"Ashes to Dust" presents a decidedly mature take on old things. WEW is not a songster who takes on personas (Dylan, Springsteen), because there is always the sense that he is the guy in the song. Pretty hard to pull off and he does it on every cut this album. The arrangements are simple and contemporary, with his playing being noticeably improved over "Hymns." I love "Sorest Eye," "Hub Cale" and "Heart in Your Hand" in particular, with the latter's lines "You're a rainstorm, a fire and a trainwreck/All wrapped up in ribbons and lace" being up for an alltime-country writing award--both my male and female friends like the whole idea of that line, for the same reasons. This is really one hell of an album, and the growth Whitmore has shown makes me anxious to see what he does next. Duet with Gillian Welch? Mercy."
SAW HIM LIVE...UNBELIEVABLE!!!!
William R. Schmidt | Chicago, IL USA | 01/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw William Elliot Whitmore Live the other day near Chicago and I have to say he sounds exactly like his CD, but it is more amazing to see him live, he commands the audience and no one can speak a work once he opens his mouth. If you do not own any of his work then i suggest that you go and buy the best new artist around! ....and if I could give more than 5 stars I would"
Impressive sophomore effort
Thomas L. Hall | San Joaquin Valley, CA | 06/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is powerful stuff. Whitmore has the idiosyncratic voice of an unholy fusion of Tom Waits, John Prine and Townes van Zandt. What the hell, a little of Larry McMurtry thrown in, too. His instrumental sense is reminiscent of the Harry Smith Anthology, that is sparse and unadorned. He is singing the blues but not what one would expect from a rural Iowan who is not yet thirty years old. My wife was very surprised when I told her that and she feels he is likely a reincarnated "old soul." This album is not for everybody but my wife, who despises Tom Waits and generally doesn't care for the blues, was favorably impressed as I obviously am."