People talk all the time about artists painting a picture of a certain place or people with their songs. Few artists actually do it well and even fewer do it as well as William Elliot Whitmore.
According to his bio, William Elliot Whitmore was born somewhere along the Mississippi River and has a "an intense love and spiritual understanding of the land..." I'm going to have to fully agree with the second half of that last sentence because it really does coming soaring through his music. His newest album, Field Songs, is just that. It's eight modern day spirituals that you could imagine field hands singing to each other under a torrid summer sun or perhaps around a bonfire after the long day's work was finally completed. Whitmore successfully pulls off the magic trick that almost every roots/Americana/country/blues musician aspires to at some point in their career. During multiple points on this album he transports you to a different time and place where times are hard and money is short yet hope and love abounds. The music on this album is sparse, stark and sorrowful yet beautiful and uplifting all at the same time.
I believe it was the late, great Etta James who once said that the Blues and Country music were 'kissing cousins'. (Don't quote me on who actually said that, I could be wrong here.) Historically speaking a truer musical statement could not be made. Whitmore's music (and especially this album) is the perfect child of the marriage between acoustic Delta Blues and old school country music. The album consists solely of a man, his spectacularly soulful voice, his guitar, his banjo and his unmatched ability to tell a story. It's as much equal parts Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson as it is The Carter Family and Bill Monroe. For those not in the know this is actually Whitmore's seventh album dating back to 2003 so you have a lot of material to draw from in your musical exploration. So get to it!