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CD Review: William Elliott Whitmore 

William Elliott Whitmore

Animals in the Dark

Anti Records

Authenticity: How do you measure or even capture it? It could be argued that once a musician records their songs some of the true original spirit is already lost. The pure inspiration must be recreated, photocopied for the studio recording session making it difficult to capture the authentic feeling.

Animals in the Dark from William Elliott Whitmore is an exception to this conundrum. This Iowa farmer reflects the experience from his Midwest world with such clarity you can smell the hay through your speakers. He utilizes his deep bluesy vocals, banjo and pedal steel to weave tales that seem like he's lived 80 years and confirms that he is authentic through and through.

Raucous at times and somber at others, Animals, Whitmore's fifth solo release, pulls you in. "Old Devils" is a perfect example of the dynamic this young 30-year-old songwriter can create in three and half minutes. Starting off slow and somewhat quiet and then exploding with anger and emotion, the song calls out a system built and controlled by a chosen few singing, "malicious politicians with nefarious schemes." On "There's Hope for You" Whitmore delivers a powerful message that we can all do better even if it's too late for him. This track sounds like a hymn with a church-like organ as Whitmore's gravelly voice echoes through an upbeat melody.

Though the overall tone of a William Elliott Whitmore record is stark and seemingly sad, there is a strong sense that everything's going to be all right. "Hard Times" states that "hard times made us and I would not trade them all for anything" essentially telling us that we may have it bad, but it's what makes us great. d


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