For a young artist, Iowa folk troubadour William Elliott Whitmore has a timeless sound. His thick, growly voice and affinity for acoustic guitar and banjo link him to the icons of country and folk, from Woody Guthrie to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott to parts of Bob Dylan’s early career. On his new album Field Songs, Whitmore appeals to the age old traditions of gospel-influenced bluegrass and southern work songs. Going even further to contextualize his work, William Elliot just released a pair of covers, taking on compositions by the legendary Johnny Cash and the more contemporary country group Red Meat.
For a new series over at Aquarium Drunkard, Whitmore respectfully preserves the song forms of both covers, keeping the focus on the stories that the original writers crafted in their lyrics. Between Cash’s family-oriented tale of rural disaster and Red Meat’s boozy heartbreak narrative, Whitmore covers some of the main themes of country music in these two songs. While they have a familiar feel, William makes the tracks his own with his trademark grit and old-fashioned guitar picking. With both the textual themes and performance style, these tracks offer a worthy introduction to both Whitmore’s music and traditional country as a genre. Check them out below (via Aquarium Drunkard).
Check out more from William Elliott Whitmore on his website.