Posted October 19, 2006 by Mike Mineo in Features

William Elliot Whitmore and his natural storytelling


As he grew up on a barren Iowa horse farm along the banks of the Mississippi River, William Elliott Whitmore developed a respect for nature and man’s sole inheritance of emotions. With nothing but a banjo and an acoustic guitar, Whitmore releases his third album Song of the Blackbird telling stories of the land where he grew up, love, loneliness, and several other aspects of humanity. With vocals destined to tell an interesting tale, Whitmore recalls the classic storytelling of Tom Waits and Johnny Cash with more of a Southern touch. Folk, blues, and even gospel are the evident genres in Whitmore’s material as he dictates his raspy vocals and heartfelt lyrics to create some vivid imagery.

“I ain’t bound for glory, no no, I’m bound for flames,” Whitmore croons in the sin-obsessed ‘One Man’s Shame’. The song is a good example of the gospel side of Whitmore, both lyrically and musically. ‘Everyday’ focuses on the land where he grew up, “Ooh as the sun came up over that eastern field today,” Whitmore begins, “Oh, I could not help to think of you” mixing some credible emotions of pain and loss. Unlike many artists, Whitmore blames himself for most of his loss in his songs. “Oh, the pain I put you through,” he says in ‘Everyday’. I find many artists to be contradicting themselves when singing sullen ballads without even putting a bit of blame on themselves, so it’s nice to see Whitmore displaying some honesty. ‘Lee County Flood’ uses some great imagery of the title at hand, portraying an event that a young Whitemore seemingly witnessed. The songs serves as a metaphor for hope, with the song immediately switching from a devastating flood to sun shining over the damp fields as Whitmore’s vocals pick up some emotion. Lyrically, this is what Song of the Blackbird is full of… emotion. Check him out now on his extended fall tour.

William Elliot Whitmore – One Man’s Shame



William Elliot Whitmore – Everyday



William Elliot Whitmore – Lee County Flood



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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].