Listen to Whitmore for the first time and your head will fill with questions. Why haven't I heard him before? How old is he? Is he black or white? And most importantly, is he touring?
The first track on this remarkable album is Whitmore accompanied by a military shuffle on a snare drum. And that's it. It's raw and naked and utterly compelling. Singing with a throaty yarp you reckon he's been around a bit. Maybe another Seasick Steve. Well the colour is accurate, this weather beaten voice belongs to a white guy and not a Leadbellyesque troubadour. The whiteness is betrayed by a slight vulnerability to the voice which pokes its head above the cotton fields from time to time.
The most surprising thing about this guy is that he is just 31. A goatee bearded, skater looking hick. Born to Iowa farm owners he sings from the red and brown earth of the land and is always only sparsely accompanied. Slide guitar and footstomps, banjo or just a well-picked acoustic, it all serves that voice.
With songs like the aforementioned 'Mutiny', 'Hard Times' or the sprightly yet funereal stomp of 'Old Devils', the album just reeks of hardships and struggles. Moonshine, prison and stolen souls, Southern landmarks and sin. It sounds like the musical of Robert Johnson's life. And I would sell my soul at the crossroads for this album.