Speaking of Steve Earle’s seminal album Guitar Town, Rodney Crowell said, “Steve made an album that was so true to him.” The best works of art, be they songs or entire albums (or even works of literature), are those that are true to the artist, that we cannot imagine being made by someone else. William Elliot Whitmore’s Kilonova (Bloodshot), although a collection of covers, is the unique product of this outstanding artist’s influences and vision, and could not have been made by anyone else.
The eclectic assortment of songs recalls, somewhat, the lost art of the mixtape, and it made me a little nostalgic. Back in the “old days,” we discovered new artists from mixtapes. While some of the artists Whitmore covers are very well known, like ZZ Top and Bad Religion, some, like the alt-country band Red Meat, are quite obscure. Whitmore’s faithful, heartfelt rendition of their excellent “One Glass At A Time” might just get them some of the exposure they so rightfully deserve.
Whitmore’s interpretation of ZZ Top’s “Hot, Blue, and Righteous,” revealed new depths to that song, which is as easily understood to be about finding God as finding a woman. Where ZZ Top is suave and sensual, Whitmore is solemn. Both performances, I found, support the song’s dual meaning in their own way, with their own emotional valence and truth.
Whitmore’s haunting, bourbon-soaked vocals are a gorgeous clarion call from the deepest Midwest, working their sonic magic on these songs. When the instruments drop out, and he sings unaccompanied, the power and majesty of Whitmore’s voice is truly evident. It’s the voice of a truly exceptional artist you need to hear. Give it a listen, here: https://www.williamelliottwhitmore.com/