Published Mar 27, 2015Does a musician need to be in anguish and turmoil to make truly great music that touches the soul? Does the discovery of contentedness that comes with age necessarily put out the fires of youth? It's a widely held belief that both of these things are true, but listening to William Elliott Whitmore's Radium Death proves both of those statements wholly untrue.
Brimming with the life and joy Whitmore hinted at on 2011's Field Songs, Radium Death moves faster and with more bounce than anything he's released thus far in his career. In terms of subject matter, death still lurks around every corner, but Whitmore seems full of a new levity that allows him to take it in a far more optimistic way; songs like "Don't Strike Me Down" and "Healing to Do" shine in the midst of destruction and chaos. Whitmore even throws down for some genuine fun on the drinking stomp of "South Lee County Brew." The quieter moments, like the banjo piece "Can't Go Back," are still there, and are actually more effective used as a side dish rather than the main course. And it's all anchored by that beautifully gravelly voice that sounds as strong as ever.
Whitmore pulls off a wonderful feat with Radium Death, creating a record that reads like classic Whitmore, but sounds like something gloriously new. (Anti)