Reviews William Elliott Whitmore I'm With You

William Elliott Whitmore

I'm With You

When William Elliott Whitmore signed to Bloodshot, I thought it was a natural fit. I like Whitmore; I like the label. Win/win. But I also wondered how an artist I think of as more on the folk/bluegrass side fit with a label I think of as Americana/alt-country. Similar, for sure, but not quite there. These are silly semantics to worry about, but I’m going somewhere with it.


After 2018’s covers album Kilonova, Whitmore is back with I’m With You, his first record of originals for the label. It’s likely that I overlooked some of Whitmore’s subtle twang in the past, but now it’s somehow one of the first things that jumps out to me. It’s certainly not his defining trait, but I hear just a little bit more country in songs like “Put It To Use” and “Black Iowa Dirt.” But Whitmore’s true definitive trait is his storytelling and his passion. With a voice that’s often described as “wise beyond its years” (and weathered beyond its years), his songs are personal, reflective and earnest. I’m With You doesn’t just have nine new, folk ballads. It has nine new stories that cover everything from Iowa pride and farming to LSD and the mysteries of life.


For some songwriters storytelling is a more of a crutch than a skill, but Whitmore’s songs are layered and complete. The music and lyrics work in tandem, with instrumentation and tone adding emotion and atmosphere instead of just moving the story forward. “Save Ourselves” may be the best example of this. It’s first person and thoughtful, but the slowly fading guitar at the end then delves into a sorrow that hits much deeper. “History” is both personal, introspective, and emotionally complex in how it addresses pain but also empowerment. It’s not a perfect record, but few are. I personally find “MK Ultra Blues” to be a little too much on the storytelling side and, while closer “Black Iowa Dirt” is fun, it’s also a bit hokey. But these are minor transgressions. Really, I dig it all.


I talked about genre at the start. I’m With You falls into a category just like everything else, but it overrides those boundaries. This is from the heart and it should appeal to people who don’t just seek out a specific section at the record store. Music, as with all of the arts, is often most powerful when its connection is unspoken. Whitmore’s soul is on display in his work. A lot of the time when you hear a comment like “wise beyond its years,” the end product comes across as forced. That’s absolutely not the case in Whitmore’s work. He’s not just singing about a lifestyle. He lives it. And that emotion comes through clearly in I’m With You.

8.5 / 10Loren
Advertisement
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
Leave a comment

Bloodshot

2020

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

Share this content
Advertisement
KFAI - Root Of All Evil
More by William Elliott Whitmore

William Elliott Whitmore

Kilonova

7.5 / 10 William Elliott Whitmore - Kilonova album cover

William Elliott Whitmore’s raspy folk pulls from diverse influences that are on full display over the span of 10 covers on Kilonova that don’t really sound like covers, putting his timeless and ...

William Elliott Whitmore

Field Songs

8.6 / 10 William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs album cover

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 ...

Related news

Records William Elliott Whitmore #8

Posted Aug. 31, 2020, 8:36 p.m.

William Elliott Whitmore is back with an upcoming eighth full-length album titled I'm With You. Whitmore released covers album Kilonova in 2018 on Bloodshot Records, who will also release ...

Bands Dope Walker debut announced

Posted June 21, 2020, 12:17 p.m.

Based in Minneapolis, MN and featuring a number of musicians who are recognized for their work elsewhere, Dope Walker has announced a debut album called Save Save. The band features ...

Labels William Elliott Whitmore joins Bloodshot

Posted April 30, 2018, 5:53 p.m.

William Elliott Whitmore will release a new album later this year on Bloodshot Records. The musician from Lee County, Iowa offered the following statement: I remember going to the record ...

x

Logo

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.