Banjo ballads and scarred, rough punk riffs wring anthems of hard times and tough soil.— Austin Chronicle
The Iowa native makes bluegrass that works in a similar fashion to Bruce Springsteen’s world-weary Americana— AV Club
On his eighth full-length album I’m With You, William Elliott Whitmore takes a steely gaze through a foggy existence to see a clearer version of himself. Instead of focusing on the murky complexities of the greater world, the punk rock preacher-meets-pastoral philosopher widens the horizon of his True North folksong, navigating a path through life’s profound and deep-rooted intricacies. I’m With You is his first album of original material since 2015’s Radium Death (ANTI-) and follows his 2018 covers album, Kilonova.
Aided by his raspy voice, country-baked banjo and hard-strummed guitar, Whitmore takes an inventory of ego, family, friends, life lessons, death, ripple effect, creativity, and emotion. And like most lessons worth learning, I’m With You isn’t always clean and simple. “MK Ultra Blues” is about what can happen when a nation makes decisions out of fear, “Put It To Use” is the singer’s interpretation of wisdom he’s drawn from the dead, “History” details how the past informs our future. Now more than ever, these reflections could be the songwriter’s most affecting legacy.
Through impassioned and personal stories, Whitmore’s creative blend invites the listener into his familiar world. “Put It To Use” combines a driving banjo strum, bass drum stomp, and lilting violin drone to shake the dirt from the farmhouse floorboards. In other moments—“My Mind Can Be Cruel To Me” and “Black Iowa Dirt”—twangy punked-up country punches right through the mix, leading the listener into the sweaty crowd of electric, spirited, smoky clubs where WEW has held court since his debut album in 2003. In “Save Ourselves” and “I’m Here” one can hear the imperfections of nature and the passage of time from those long, homesick highways—a rural and gruff soulfulness, a rhythmic limp, a hitch over notes.
The themes of I’m With You are an extension of a two-decade career in which Whitmore has become defined by a probing mind, steady hand and level-headed approach. The Lee County, Iowa-based singer-songwriter is a calming voice amongst chaos, the friend you call when you need advice, and these nine songs are him working through a number of knotty spiritual equations posed by the cosmos.
William Elliott Whitmore is a singer-songwriter/banjoist/guitarist/drum-stompin’ solo act from Lee County, Iowa. He has released seven full-length albums that seamlessly meld country, blues, folk, and punk styles—spanning from 2003’s Hymns for the Hopeless (Southern Records) to 2015’s Radium Death (ANTI-) and 2018's Kilonova. His songs are haunting, rustic, powerful, and real–byproducts of living his entire life on the family farm, being involved in the hardcore-punk scene in the local community, and touring hard across the country.
The Lee County, Iowa-based singer-songwriter is a calming voice amongst chaos, the friend you call when you need advice, and the nine songs on his eighth album I'm With You are him working through a number of knotty spiritual equations posed by the cosmos.
A man armed only with a banjo and a bass drum can be a formidable force, especially if his name is William Elliott Whitmore. With his powerful voice and honest approach, Whitmore comes from the land, growing up on a family farm in Lee County, Iowa. Still living on the same farm today, Whitmore has truly taken the time to discover where his center lies, and from that he will not be moved.
Whitmore has consistently carved his own path, honoring the longstanding tradition of folk music throughout his nearly 20-year career, while always allowing his blues, soul, and punk rock influences to shine through. Getting his first break opening for his friend's hardcore band with just a banjo in hand, he would discover bands like The Jesus Lizard, Bad Brains, Lungfish, and Minutemen and soon learn to play his own brand of rural, roots music with that same DIY ethic.
William Elliott Whitmore has been back and forth across the United States and to cities around the world. He's toured with such diverse acts as Frank Turner, Trampled By Turtles, Clutch, Murder By Death and Chris Cornell, to name a few. He's appeared on some of the biggest stages around the world including Stagecoach, Byron Bluesfest (Australia) and End of the Road Fest (UK). His willingness to take his show to any playing field has proved invaluable as he turned strangers to diehards with every performance.
Official Website: William Elliott Whitmore Online