BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Call him a ferocious folkie, a belligerent bluesman or a precocious punker. Whatever you do, don’t call him out. As evidenced by the rabid tones of Radium Death, his eighth album and perhaps his most demonstrative, Whitmore is both resolute and resilient. “I’ve been bad, I’ve been tried, I can’t stand myself sometimes,” he declares on the tattered narrative “Go On Home.” Mostly though, he’s unapologetic, asserting a raspy, irascible presence on the ragged, ranting “Healing to do,” going furious and full blown on “Don’t Strike Me Down,” and laying down a gritty Woody Guthrie impression on “South Lee County Blues.”
With few exceptions, he relies only on singular guitar or banjo to relay his unfailingly rebellious conviction, but regardless, his point is consistently made well. Like Tom Morello, a fellow insurgent with whom he strikes a common bond, Whitmore relies on old school precepts to relay his disparaging intents, making for a stark and sometimes intimidating presence. Yet he’s also consistently compelling. “Ain’t gone yet,” he declares on the album’s assertive send-off, and indeed, by all accounts, he’s in for the long haul. Judging by the performances herein, there’s no reason to doubt that intent.
DOWNLOAD: “Don’t Strike Me Down,” “Ain’t Gone Yet,” “Go On Home”