William Elliott Whitmore, FT (the Shadow Governement), Tim Wehrle Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended

When: Fri., Feb. 20, 9 p.m. 2009

If I’ve ever seen a solo artist who didn’t need to complexify his sound, it’s William Elliott Whitmore. This fiery Iowa farm boy can carry a whole album (and a whole audience) with just his banjo, his stomping foot, and his prematurely ancient mountain-man voice, and that’s pretty much what he did on his trilogy of albums for Southern, Hymns for the Hopeless, Ashes to Dust, and Song of the Blackbird. But on the new Animals in the Dark, his Anti- debut, he places himself in a relatively ornate setting, adding drums, pedal steel, strings, and backup singers, among other things. He also broadens the range of targets for his Old Testament fire-and-brimstone fulmination: whereas once he directed his rage principally inward, creating breathtaking displays of spiritual self-loathing, on the Animals cut “Mutiny” he calls down a curse on a negligent captain with such fury that he might’ve earned himself a Secret Service visit if he’d released this album a few months earlier. In the end, the extra instrumentation doesn’t make as big a difference as you might expect. Whitmore still dominates the proceedings with his voice and his songs—though he wrote everything on Animals in the Dark himself, like all his albums it sounds like a collection of traditional tunes that passed the hobo-camp test decades ago. FT (the Shadow Government) and Tim Wehrle open.

Price: $12

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