It takes a special character to construct life-affirming sing-along tales about politics, redemption, death and life. William Elliott Whitmore’s debut and sophomore albums – 2003’s Hymns for the Hopeless and 2005’s Ashes to Dust – were the first glimpses into his gravelly-voiced, banjo-driven rural roots music that crafts compelling anthems of hard times and tough soil. Whitmore’s haunting, raw, songs are products of living his entire life on his Iowa family farm, where he sketches out songs between feeding animals and tending crops, plus immersion in the punk scene and hard touring. Marrying a patient sense of craft with a distinct DIY spirit, his songs are bathed in an organic accessibility and hum with exigent electricity—amplified or not. Whether Whitmore is singing the blues, observing social injustice, commenting on the meaning of life, or running from the law, his gravitas is augmented by a sense of humour at the absurdity of it all. His rapt audience responds by becoming instant kindred spirits who raise a glass, sing along, stomp and hoot and holler.
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About Mick Flannery · County Cork, Ireland
Raised by a music-loving family in a farmhouse in Blarney, County Cork, Mick Flannery's early influences were Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and the pragmatic desire to not be a starving artist. He often stepped away from his guitar and piano and picked up a chisel in order to make money as a local stonemason. He gave up that dream life of crafting wealthy homeowners' property walls and doorways, however, once it become apparent he was really, really good at fashioning songs. As in, buttery voice that makes the lyrics about betrayal and hurt stay with you good. As in, win the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville good. As in, two consecutive albums hit Number One in Ireland good.
Now in his mid-30s, he's broadened his songwriting themes beyond heartache and the unfairness of love gone wrong — Flannery's more recent lyrics have been more likely to target universal injustice, greed and social hardship, and there is always a growl curled up underneath Flannery's croon. When the old stonemason is chipping away at something greater, expect to be inspired.