William Elliott Whitmore has given us a timeless record, one that could have been written and played nearly a hundred years ago as easily–even, perhaps, more easily than today.
Whitmore’s country-blues are sung over a simple banjo or guitar most of the time, in an eerie voice that it would be a cop-out to compare to Tom Waits (but that’s just what I did, isn’t it?). His voice is as ageless as his music–I found myself trying to guess how old he was before reading my press kit–and coupled with the spare instrumentation brings to mind an almost Steinbeckian character, on the side of a dirt road with nothing but his guitar case and the clothes on his back, trying to hitch a ride.
Ashes To Dust is the second recording for this artist and his banjo and guitar, but I won’t tell you more than that for fear of taking the fun out of his haunting dirges of love and death. There’s an end-times ballad worthy of recent Johnny Cash, but Whitmore’s not imitating anyone, really. He’s managed to make an album full of music that isn’t indebted to any trends, and is that much the better for it. Good storytelling never goes out of style.