Reviews William Elliott Whitmore Field Songs

William Elliott Whitmore

Field Songs

William Elliott Whitmore’s Anti debut, Animals in the Dark, was something of an outlier in his discography—the bigger label release introduced more instrumentation and a more global lyrical scope than much of his earlier work. While an excellent album, it isn’t fully indicative of Whitmore’s strengths, and with Field Songs, he returns to his son of the soil theme, built on an ideal of hardworking Americana that has characterized much of his work. At the core of the record are only three things: Whitmore’s voice, his guitar and/or banjo, and an atmospheric snapshot of rural culture. There are some backing pieces in place: deeper instrumentation and simple, complementary drum parts, but the album is mostly Whitmore alone.

Many words have been spilt already on Whitmore’s coarse, “whiskey” voice, with ample character and wisdom buried within its textures. Make no mistake, his voice isn’t a tool to conjure working class imagery, rather he crafts his singing with a true ability to conjure emotion and hit his notes. In “Let’s Do Something Impossible,” which takes an underdog mentally while referencing several historic instances of the little guy winning, Whitmore opens his voice in a way previously unheard, and he shows impressive vocals chops that show he takes his craft seriously. He improves with each release.

As for the content, Field Songs is an apt title, drawing inspiration from planting, harvesting, the seasons, and relying on the soil for one’s living. Beyond the rural pieces, though, Whitmore reaches out to the minority, whether that means a marginalized ethnic group or a forgotten way of life, his perspective shines light on the commonalities that tie everyone together. The lyrics are poignant and without cliché, and the tone of his voice unites theme with music in a powerful fashion. To summarize his tone, the idea behind much of Whitmore’s work is to accept the negative along with the positive and to find solace in the experience.

At only eight songs, the record feels a bit short, but it’s still satisfying as a full release, while the shorter playlist gives more traction to each individual song. With Field Songs, Whitmore indeed tells the story and feel of his Iowa homeland with honor and truth. But, the folksy, minimal guitar/banjo lines and his poignant voice also expresses a more universal tale about the hardships and celebrations of life.

8.6 / 10Loren
Leave a comment



8.6 / 10

8.6 / 10

Share this content
Recent reviews

Aaron Turner & Daniel Menche


8.0 / 10 Aaron Turner & Daniel Menche - Nox album cover

Aaron Turner and Daniel Menche, two prominent figures of experimental music, meet again after the Mamiffer collaboration with Menche back in 2015. Both have been active recently, with Turner participating ...

Royal Brat


8.7 / 10 Royal Brat  - Eyesore album cover

Royal Brat follow an intriguing trend I see in a lot of queer punk: taking direct and heavy subject matter and addressing it with vitriol, then flipping a switch from ...



8.5 / 10 Chiller  - Chiller  album cover

I’ll admit to coming into this one with a clean slate. I don’t know Feral Trash, who predate Chiller and share members Ilisha and Eric. The duo recruited Erin (Black Tower) ...

Related news

Records William Elliott Whitmore/Esmé Patterson

Posted Nov. 17, 2016, 8:26 a.m.

This Friday William Elliott Whitmore and Esmé Patterson will release s aplit 7" covering each other's work. Titled Play Each Other's Songs, the 2-song single features Patterson performing ...

Bands Erase Errata return for 4th album

Posted Dec. 30, 2014, 10:40 a.m.

San Francisco's Erase Errata have announced a return-from-haiatus new record, which is titled Lost Weekend and releases on Jan. 20 via Under the Sun Records. The band went on ...

Labels Bloodshot Records turns 20--releasing compilation

Posted Oct. 5, 2014, 3:35 p.m.

Bloodshot Records will release While No One Was Looking on Nov. 18, a compilation celebrating their history. The comp features 38 artists covering notable songs from the labels history, including ...



Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.