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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
William Elliot Whitmore
Ashes to Dust
Southern Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


February 21, 2005
We here at Lost at Sea would like to think that we provide a plethora of public services (along with the music reviews, of course). If I may, please allow me to attempt to do both at once by stating in a few sentences about William Elliot Whitmore and his new album, Ashes To Dust what every review of this album will invariably say, thereby negating the necessity of you having to read the first few paragraphs, or potentially all, of any of them:

Focusing on his guitar, banjo and a voice which is often likened to Tom Waits channeling the great delta bluesman of yore, Whitmore plays the music of the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the demoralized and the oppressed. Yes, we're talking the blues - and not that fashionable faux-blues, or alt-country, or blues rock that is all the rage these days. No, Whitmore's yarns weave an authentic coat of Mississippi river music, and if one listen to that voice, the sparse reverb drenched percussion accompaniment - often nothing more than a kick drum, snare, or tambourine - and plaintive banjo plucking can't sell you, then it is only fair to mention that Whitmore grew up where the great river helps form the Iowa state border.

So now that my parole officer is momentarily appeased (just 6 weeks left to go!), and you know all the background info, let's talk specifics.

"Midnight" opens the album with a head-bob-inducing guitar lick and an insistent kick drum. Whitmore profiles the down-and-out sinner's impossible plea for redemption in lines like "the bluebird can sing/but the crow's got the soul/and I'm a dog among kings with no self control… the sins on my back no one could forgive".

"The Day The End Finally Came" highlights Whitmore's banjo and throws in some bottleneck slide-playing for color, and while all this may sound like trite blues-ism, the ambient guitar squall behind "When Push Comes To Love" and the backwards snare attack on "Porchlight" - a touching portrait of Whitmore's father's life - add enough production variety to keep the modern listener's ears interested while retaining the bed of tape hiss that keeps the purists from screaming 'treason.'

The fact that authentic blues music hasn't had a place in the mainstream in decades might make one question why this tradition continues. Then someone with a voice and the story telling sensibilities of William Elliot Whitmore comes along to make sure that the rest of us - those who aren't paying attention -understand why there is still a large cross section of the music-loving populace that can't get enough of this stuff.

A thirty-five minute run time, some wonderful performances and engaging characters make Ashes To Dust a great one sit listen which, sadly, has become a rarity these days.

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper

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