SON OF THE SOIL William Elliott Whitmore

The Iowa roots rebel sows the seeds of mutiny.

 

 

By STEPHEN DEUSNER

 

 

William Elliott Whitmore doesn’t sound like a
thirtysomething troubadour from Iowa, farm-raised and reared on hardcore and
hip-hop. Instead, he sings with a grainy, drawling voice more akin to that of a
wizened Delta bluesman and playing an unpretentious brand of stark roots music
that draws predominantly from pre-rock influences.

 

 

According to Whitmore, his voice and his style have grown
out of a small plot of land in Lee County, Iowa, which he has called home his
entire life. “I’m a son of the soil,” he says. “Everything I’m about has to do
with the land, planting seeds in the spring and harvesting in the fall. Those
are the metaphors I enjoy working with-the birth and death cycle. It’s very
much a part of what I do.”

 

 

His parents bred horses and farmed the land, and for a while
Whitmore followed suit. “I used to plant row crops,” he explains in his
excitable Midwestern drawl, “but once I started playing music full time, about
ten years ago, I couldn’t be a farmer. You have to do one or the other.
Musician and farmer-each has to be a full-time job.”

 

 

Specifically, the family farm has already inspired three
albums on Southern Records, which form a trilogy documenting Whitmore’s grief
over his parents’ deaths. Following such a protracted mourning period, Animals in the Dark, his fourth album
and first for ANTI- Records, ventures further out into the world, lashing out
at bad government, corrupt cops, and the hard times that affect everyone. “I
stopped being sad and started getting angry at everything that was going on in
the world, the current political climate, the past eight years in general.”

 

 

Rather than trekking again to Chicago, Whitmore opted to create Animals in the small studio he built
with Cousin Luke-his actual cousin. “It’s literally a garage,” he says. “Not
some run-down garage, though. We did some work to it, but it’s still a garage.”
These songs do not betray such humble origins: Building on the stark acoustic
sound he mastered on his previous efforts, he has reinforced them with
percussion, strings, and raucous backing vocals courtesy of friends and fellow
musicians.

 

 

His goal, he says, was to create something meaningful to
stave off the ugliness in the world. “The George Bushes, the Tom DeLays, the
fucking Rod Blagojeviches of the world, they’ll never know what it’s like to
create something beautiful. They can only destroy. We battle evil by just
creating a little bit of beauty.”

 

 

[Photo Credit: Adam Fried]

 

One thought on “SON OF THE SOIL William Elliott Whitmore

  1. Pingback: William Elliot Whitmore’s Soil Songs | Climate Narrative Project

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