Field Songs count as William Elliott Whitmore's seventh studio album, and his second for Anti, which makes him label mates with Tom Waits. Whitmore described Field Songs as "a stark representation of rural life."
The son of a farmer, Whitmore's songs remain close to the earth. His official bio states this about the songwriter: "Hailing from a horse farm along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, William Elliott Whitmore has developed an intense love and spiritual undertanding of the land, which he flawlessly conveys through all of his records."
These eight songs sound like they were recorded on a backporch during one sitting. With minimal instrumentation, a Grapes of Wrath sentiment threads these 21st Century Depression songs. Whitmore's songs are tough as nails. His musician-horse farmer perspective is refreshing as a long-awaited rain in July.
Field Songs showcase Whitmore's deft banjo and guitar skills as well as his fine songcraft. Chirping birds emerge as the first sounds heard, and then a lonesome banjo begins "Bury Your Burdens In The Ground". The title track captures the true spirit of Whitmore when he sings, "This little piece of ground is a homestead now..."
"Don't Need It" serves as one of the strongest tracks on this collection. The strength of these compositions reside in the fact that Whitmore can keep your attention with just his words and instrument. "Everything Gets Gone", another acoustic guitar tune, evokes images of wooded hills, plowed fields and trees by a river.
The banjo driven "Let's Do Something Impossible" conjures a Woody Guthrie spirit, and an homage to all hardworking folk. On "Get There From Here" Whitmore sings about leaving home to find honest work. Crickets can be heard on "We'll Carry On" as if night has already fallen. "Not Feeling Any Pain" ends Field Songs with a gritty guitar tone that reveals what goes on after a hard days work with no rain.
Let's drink to the salt of the earth...
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